In the last portion of the book of Bamidbar ( In The Wilderness/ Numbers) we read of the 42 stations in the wandering of the people of Israel in the wilderness until their arrival at the gates of the land of Israel.
“These are the journeys of the children of Israel who left the land of Egypt intheir legions, under the charge of Moshe and Aaron.2. Moshe recorded from their starting points for their journeys ( motza-eyhem lemasa-eyem) according to the word of HaShem, and these were their journeys to their starting points.( masa-eyem lemotza-eyhem” ( Numbers 33:1).
The Baal Shem Tov teaches that the words in the verse “These are the journeys of the children of Israel…(ibid 1)” teaches us that ” These forty-two “stations” from Egypt to the land of Israel are replayed in the life of every individual Jew, as his soul journeys from its birth into the physical world until it returns to its heavenly beginnings.
What is most critical is that in all these movements from station to station , each one of these Journeys were ” according to the word of HaShem”.(Numbers 33:2),This is to teach us that our own wanderings in our own life are purpose driven and not aimless. Our destinations in our lives as individuals and as a people are never happenstance. They are always directed to a purpose and destiny. In every move in our lives we are “sent”. This is true whether we are aware of it or not.
This is further elucidated in the unusual wording in the verse ” Moshe recorded from their starting points for their journeys according to the word of HaShem, and these were their journeys to their starting points.” .”(ibid 33:2). First motza-eyhem lemasa-eyem (from their starting points for their journeys )and then masa-eyem lemotza-eyhem (their journeys to their starting points ) ” Why the repetition of the idea and why the reverse order?
The words “motza-eyhem lemasa-eyem” teaches us that we need to remember where we came from and what we have experienced. Our past is our guide. This is in direct contradiction to the words of Israel’s present President. Shimon Peres said, in an interview with David Hume (2000), the following chilling words, “You know, they say the Jewish people have a long memory. What we need is a rich imagination today, because the things that are going to happen – or did happen already – are so revolutionary that the past becomes pale, irrelevant.” It is no wonder that Peres seems to miss the mark so consistently.
The Baal She Tov taught that ““Forgetfulness leads to exile. Memory is the source of redemption”.
While the words “masa-eyem lemotza-eyhem” reminds us that we must always be aware of our primary destiny and original goal. The root of the Hebrew word for Egypt, Mitzrayim, is meitzarim or constraints . Just as leaving Egypt and moving through the 42 stations represented a journey into real freedom and destiny so does each individual soul go through their own stations towards true freedom and purpose.
All those 42 stations had a destination and a destiny and that was the entry into HaShem’s land of promise. Yet as we have stated “Forgetfulness leads to exile. Memory is the source of redemption” .After thousands of years of wanderings and persecution many of our brothers and sisters have forgotten where they came from and where they are meant to be. Yet, thankfully, Hashem declares that He is aware of the pitfalls and dangers of exile. He understands why His people will become like sheep wandering in the wrong pastures. He then declares in the book of Ezekiel that He will ultimately bring them home
“ As a shepherd seeks out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are separated, so will I seek out My sheep; and I will deliver them out of all places whither they have been scattered in the day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them upon the mountains of Israel, by the streams, and in all the habitable places of the country. (Ezekiel 34:12-13)
We have begun to witness that deliverance of the wandering flock in our days. The numbers may still seem small but the direction of the unfolding of this prophecy is both clear and very moving. That was the sense this week as another planeload of new olim arrived in Israel with Nefesh B’Nefesh. One could not watch their arrival and not feel the stirring of something great and awesome.
Rabbi Nachman Kahana of the old city of Jerusalem taught ,what was for me, a soul changing truth. He taught that very one knows that when one is called up for an aliyah to the torah, his name is called out as for example “May Isaac son of Abraham come up to the torah”. Why then he declared are we not aware that when someone comes on Aliyah to this land it is because in the heavens his or her name was called out as well? What we are to learn from this is that if any of our readers still living in exile feel that call and beckoning, they must act upon that feeling forthwith.
The time is now as it is clear that your name is being called up in the heavens.