Photo of Rabbi Ettedgui

Parashat Matot-Masei - 5776

Dear friends,

This Shabbat we read a double portion - Matot and Massei. Massei concludes the Book of Bamidbar, the fourth Book of the Torah, which dealt with the forty years that the Children of Israel spent in the Midbar, wilderness. We are now on the shore of the Jordan River, ready to cross into the Promised Land.

In Matot, the Torah emphasizes the importance of keeping one's word. A vow, a promise, an oath must be kept. Moses emphasized this law to the leaders of the tribes. Leaders especially must watch what they promise and must keep their word. How timely is this Parasha. We find ourselves listening to so many promises made by political candidates from both camps. Will they be able to deliver?

In the second Parasha Massei (journeys), Moses reviews all the stations where the Children of Israel stopped from the time they left Egypt 40 years ago. Altogether there are forty-two stations. Things happened in these stations. For the people, it was a good reminder of the good stops, like crossing the Sea of Reeds, Mount Sinai, etc., as well as places where they failed and lacked faith in G-d. What was important is that they learned from these experiences and they moved on and were now ready as a united nation to enter and conquer the Promised Land.

In Hassidic teaching, the forty-two stations symbolize our own individual lives. Our life is not just one long journey from birth to death, but a journey with many stops. From the time our soul is sent to this world until its return to G-d, there are ups and downs, significant achievements as well as many failures. What is important is that we learn from the experiences and embark on the next journey. We cannot be stuck and feel helpless or assume that we have reached our full potential.

This Parasha concludes the journey from the Exodus to the Promised Land. It is an important message. Happiness is having started the journey and continuing to be on the journey of life.

May all your journeys be filled with health and happiness.

Shabbat Shalom,