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Masay(Numbers 33-36)

Perfect Travels

Parshat Masay enumerates the 42 different locations at which the Jewish people encamped during their 40 years in the desert. The travel route was determined by God's Cloud of Glory which accompanied them: When the Cloud rose, the Jews traveled, and when the Cloud settled, they encamped. The people never knew how long each encampment would be; they stayed in some places for many years, and others for as briefly as 12 hours. God issued no advance itinerary.

Based on these encampments, the Talmud derives many laws of Shabbat observance. One such law is the prohibition of dismantling a structure, in order to build a new one in its place. This is derived from the fact that the Jews would dismantle and reassemble their camp every time they traveled.

But, the commentators ask, why does the Shabbat law only pertain to rebuilding in the same location? During the Jewish travels, the dismantling was in order to rebuild in the next encampment - a different place!

To appreciate the answer, let's imagine a baby on a train ride, travelling in his mother's arms. From the child's perspective, he has never moved. He's always exactly where he should be, in his mother's arms.

So too, since the Jews in the desert started and stopped according to God's plan, they were always exactly where they should be. The geography might have changed, but ultimately their position was the same.

The lesson for us today? Our stations in life are only temporary. Our direction is constantly changing, taking us to new unknowns. Sometimes we may wish to be back in our old comfort zone. But in truth, the place where God directs us ... is the perfect place to be.

Published: April 29, 2006

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Visitor Comments: 2

(2) Anonymous, July 20, 2006 12:00 AM

I'm wandering now

It's a time of war and I've left Tzfat where bombs are falling, for now. I feel like I'm wandering in the desert. It's good to remember that I'm right where I need to be. Where G-d want's me to be, for whatever reason I don't understand. And that like that baby, I'm still in my father's arms no matter where I am. Thank you.

(1) AL ELLIAS MAQBULL, July 20, 2006 12:00 AM

knowdge is power wipe away ignorance

minister and questin knowldge breathren seeds we a luved 1ncez

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