Parshas Masei: It’s the Journey, Not the Destination

Around this time last year, I traveled to North America to visit my family.   I had a really terrible trip, where 3 flights turned into 5 (plus a bus ride), with a 22-hour itinerary taking 80 hours to complete – no mean feat for a pregnant woman traveling alone with a toddler on her lap!

Akiva as he sat on one of our many flights last year, reading the safety information card

Akiva as he sat on one of our many flights last year, reading the safety information card

Looking back on that time, sadly, the difficult experience of getting to North America that eclipses the time spent there after arrival.  It is the crazy tale of my travels that my friends want to hear about – how did I survive 3 & 1/2 days of constant travel with a big belly and a squirming toddler?  What happened, exactly?  It was quite the saga.

This year, the journey (with an energetic toddler and a crawling lap infant) went much better, but when I see people, the question is the same.  ”How was the flight? How did you do it? You’re so brave to travel with the babies like that!”

So it is the journey to North America that people want to hear about, not the adventures in the countryside with family, not the swims in the lake, not the berry picking, not the art show along the boardwalk, not the sandcastles at the beach, not the playgrounds and petting zoos, not the big family dinners…

Which explains, perhaps, why this week’s parsha is called Masei, “the journeys of.”  It is not called “the destinations of.”  The focus is on the journeys themselves.  For it is not our arrival at the destination that changes us, it is the journey.  A journey challenges you, forces you to grow.  The Jews had to undergo 42 journeys, 42 unique periods of growth and transformation, in order to be spiritually ready to enter the land of Israel.

Similarly, we also must focus on our journeys.  Visiting family was nice, but was it truly a challenge (ok, maybe I should not answer that!)? Did it force me to grow as a person?  Or was it more of an opportunity to relax into myself, safe in the arms of those who love me as I am?

So let us continue on our life of journeys.  Let’s not stop for too long in any one station, but keep pushing ourselves to take the next step, to go even further.  Let’s all get up and grow!

Shabbat shalom!

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