Weekly Torah Commentary — Massei July 25, 2014

Massei Bamidbar/Numbers 33 – 36

This Shabbat we read the very last portion in the book of Bamidbar/Numbers. Entitled “Massei”, it recounts the journeys of the children of Israel over the forty years they lived in the desert. Did you know there were forty-two locations where they stopped? In modern terms we might describe that as moving forty-two times in forty years!

But then, isn’t LIFE a journey for each of us? We may not physically change our geographic location as often as the Israelites did, but change we do! Whether we are aware of it or not, every day we change just a bit.

Life is indeed a journey. We experience challenges and heartaches, joyful times and unique moments, all of which contribute to the fabric of our days. The highway of life is not always smooth; occasionally there are potholes; sometimes we travel along the edge of a physical or emotional cliff. At other times, the seas of life are calm and beautiful and we want that day to last forever.

Properly understood, our challenges are blessings in disguise; they are opportunities. Obstacles enable us to taste the sweetness of victory. Weaknesses are stepping stones to new strengths and fears are open doors to deeper and stronger faith. For life is also like a magnificent musical score just waiting to be played. With every step forward in our personal growth, the sound of the music swells.

Along our journey we will be confronted with many situations, some will be filled with joy, and some will be filled with heartache. How we react to what we are faced with determines what kind of outcome the rest of our journey through life will be like.

Each day can be described as a ‘stop’ along the way, a new ‘location’. And indeed it is for we will never again be younger than we are today and yesterday’s experiences caused us to wake up this morning ever so slightly different than we were 24 hours ago. What will we do in this new ‘location’? We’ve ‘moved’ again. What’s next?

Time is a relentless master; it waits for no one, have you noticed? If we have invested previous stops in our journey focusing on the negative and the painful, we missed out on some precious lessons God intended for us. We can’t go back to the past, but in this new ‘location’,we can certainly learn from our mistakes and move on because life is not a destination; it’s a journey. And it is the sum total of all our experiences and our actions or reactions related to them that ultimately make us who we are.

The people whose journey intersects with ours are people we were destined to meet. Everyone comes into our lives for one reason or another. Some become lifelong friends; others stay awhile and move on. We may not understand how but every person who crosses our path is put there for a purpose: to help us become the best we can be. Sometimes – in fact, frequently – the passing visitor to our life’s journey often makes a lasting impression; has an impact that changes us in a profound way. What a blessing that is.

But let’s turn it around. As a passing visitor to someone else’s journey, or a long time friend, or a family member, what impact are you having on others? Is someone’s life better just because your life journey and theirs has intersected? For a day? For a month? For years? Even lifelong? Are they urged on to become the best person they can be because of your influence on their journey?

Sometimes all it takes is one special person to help us discover a whole different person inside us that we never knew existed. And the rest of our days are richer because of it. And stronger compared to the person you were.

In Tune with Torah this week = reflecting on the journey of our own life thus far, stop and think of various people whose impact on you has helped you become a better person. Thank God for those people, past and present and if it’s within your ability to do so, make a call, write a note, or send an email and convey your ‘Thank you’. No human being has ever overdosed on gratitude!

Shabbat Shalom

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