In the last portion of the book of Bamidbar (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. The lessons of that journey are critical for the descendants of those people as they continue on a journey that has already lasted for thousands of years
In this long journey we have experienced tragic and painful downturns yet have also experienced brilliant and empowering example of Divine loving-kindness. We have been hated by most of the world , replaced by many, and abused by others ,yet the plan of destiny continues to move forward.
In this latest stage of our journey we have experienced the tragedy of three boys being kidnaped and murdered. At the same time we have witnessed a people coming together in ways they haven’t been able to do for a very long time. We then sat under the attack of thousands of missiles and experienced the miracle of G-d’s and the gift of the iron dome.
Then we entered into the valley of death in Gaza and waited apprehensively as we heard of the casualties and deaths of the young men of the front. The list of casualties and the wounded crosses the full diverse tapestry of our people, those from the kibbutzim, the moshavim and from the cities. It transverses religious views and political views and includes the veteran Israelis and our new immigrants. We are one family under attack.
Those of us on the home front await apprehensively each piece of information will do well to remember the description of the beginning of our long journey;
“These are the journeys of the children of Israel who left the land of Egypt in their legions, under the charge of Moshe and Aaron. 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:-21)
First we read “from their starting points for their journeys and then the verse says “their journeys to their starting points“. Why the repetition of the idea and why the reverse order?
The words “motza-eyhem lemasa-eyem” teach us that in times of crisis and loss of direction we need to remember where we came from and what we have experienced. Our past is our guide and the measuring stick of how far we have advanced and grown. As the Baal Shem Tov taught “Forgetfulness leads to exile. Memory is the source of redemption”.
Yet at the same time when we can wonder in pain at where is this all going to, we cannot lose sight of the ultimate and Divine goal, ” their journeys to their starting points -masa-eyem lemotza-eyhem” With those two compass points we can endure, survive and grow in the long voyage that we have set upon.
One of the popular standup Israeli comedians Avi Nussbaum sent off a tweet with the following insight. He said that after visiting many of the wounded soldiers he related how he asked them all how people on the home front can be helpful. He wrote that the common response was;
“ tell them at home what we are doing…we are winning…every place we are encountering the enemy in the alleys, the tunnels in the casbahs we are coming out victorious. There are casualties, there are losses but this is a war. The only time we feel that we are losing is when we open the TV .Tell them that we are winning because that is the truth.”
In the battlefield, even in the midst of the smoke and fire, the place of our origin and the direction of our destiny is as clear as day.
May Hashem protect our boys and bring them back home safely and may he give them the wisdom and the power to eliminate the threats that surround His country and His people.
LeRefuat Yehudit Bat Golda Yocheved