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The Systems of the Jewish Year

Travelling Jewish

By Rabbi Sender Haber

The Jewish people have been traveling for many years. The Torah list forty two stops that the Jewish people made before finally entering the land of Israel and it didn’t stop there. We eventually left the land of Israel and we are still travelling around.

The Zohar in Parshas Tetzaveh writes that we left Mitzrayim on a spiritual high. After leaving, we were given forty two different challenges through which we could change the world and develop as a nation. Each place that we camped brought a new challenge. Sometimes we wanted more of G-d; sometimes we were rebellious. Sometimes there was no food; sometimes we ate too much. People died; people were born, people got married, people questioned, and people changed. Sometimes we went forward; sometimes we went backwards. We hit rocks and waged wars and sent spies. We tried to go faster and we tried to turn around. The Book of Bamidbar has been an incredible journey.

There was a specific purpose to each one of the forty two stops. The Zohar teaches that if we had succeeded then, we would have entered Israel and stayed there. We would be complete and the world around us would be perfect.

Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. We needed to leave Israel again and go back through those same forty two exercises and challenges. We didn’t go back to the same geographic position, but throughout our personal and national history we have met each one of those challenges. When we overcome all of those challenges, we will be able to go home.

In this week’s Haftorah, Yirmiyahu told the Jewish people that they should be learning from the Kedarim. These nomadic tribes traveled everywhere, but brought their gods with them wherever they went. Their gods were false, yet the Kedarim had the understanding and loyalty to always stick to the same god. The Jews for some reason felt a need to constantly be starting over again.

When we left Egypt, Hashem gave us all the miracles and amazing wonders that we needed. Afterward He let go a little bit and let the Jewish people stumble along by ourselves. Sometimes, we come to points where Hashem does not seem to be “as with us” as he was.  The Jewish people continue to exist because we don’t just ‘look for something new’. Hashem is with us wherever our travels take us.

Hashem is like a father teaching his daughter to ride a bike. He is watching closely but he is letting go. We need to remember that it is an illusion. Hashem never really leaves us. If we fall He will help us get up.

(Zohar Tetzaveh, Baal Shem Tov, Abarbanel, Toldos Yaakov Yosef)

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