Parashat Masei- Journeys
Dedicated to the ilui Neshama and the memory of the Sadik Shahin Shemuel Chai Ben Hadassah V’Daniel. May we always take the journey of his life with us in our hearts every place we go.
Parashat Masei opens with the pasuk, “These are the travels of the Jews that left Egypt…” (Bamidbar 33:1). The Malbim (Rabbi Meir Leibush Weiser, 1800’s) poses the question: Why does the verse talk about where Benei Yisrael left from as opposed to focusing on where they were traveling to, Eretz Yisrael? Why focus on where they had already been instead of focusing on where they were going? Is it not more productive to focus on what we still have the ability to change instead of dwelling on the past?
HaMalbim explains that while the destination where Benei Yisrael was headed was special and significant, it is more important for to remember where they had come from, to survey their journey and to witness their growth, to learn from the perils of their trajectories and to gain strength from their triumphs. The Torah HaKedosha saw it imperative to tell us that Benei Yisrael came from Egypt in order for us to witness their growth and be inspired to do likewise. From our past experiences we may begin to cultivate the type of people we will be in the future.
The Ba’al Shem Tov explains that the 42 journeys that Benei Yisrael took in the desert reflect the 42 journeys that a person has in their lifetime. While on the topic of ‘Shem Tov’, I feel that it is important to mention the importance of the lifelong journey that the Sadik Shahin Shemuel Chai Ben Hadassah V’Daniel, who also had such a Shem Tov. Sometimes in life, we have to stop to consider where we came from in order to be able to progress forward. It is the character and deeds of this wonderful man that we must internalize to allow ourselves to become better people and closer to HaKadosh Barukh Hu. His 42 journeys were not easy ones, but they have surely illuminated the paths of the journeys of those around him, leading the way.
I wish to express my love and condolences to his family who are so strong and never cease to inspire me or anybody else who may cross their paths. They truly bear the Shem Tov they were given. May his legacy live on through you all.
Wishing everybody a Shabbat Shalom u’Mevorakh,