July 16, 2020 / 24 Tammuz, 5780 • Parshat Matot-Massei
Issue 623
Dedicated in loving memory of Mrs. Miriam Friedman

These are the [42] journeys of the Israelites who left Egypt, organized by tribal troops, under the leadership of Moses and Aaron.

Bemidbar 33:1

These are the journeys: The Baal Shem Tov taught that these 42 journeys correspond to the 42 spiritual journeys that we make throughout our life. We begin from birth, just as the exodus from Egypt is both the Jewish people's national birth and an allegory for every individual birth, the liberation of the fetus from the confines of the womb into the freedom of the outside world where it can develop and become independent. The final journey is to the spiritual Promised Land, the afterlife.

Although some of the intervening journeys in the Israelite's trek through the desert were accompanied by setbacks, all the stations on our spiritual journey through life are meant to be holy and positive. If we choose good over evil, we will indeed live out these phases of life in the way G-d intends. If, like the generation of the desert, we make some wrong choices, we will experience them as temporary setbacks.

Although at every step in the journey of life, we strive to make the right choices, we should also recognize that even setbacks can be transformed into positive, growth experiences.

--Kehot's Chumash