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    This Shabbos, we read two parshiyos,
    Mattos and Masei.
    Masei…Journeys. “These are the journeys
    of Bnei Yisroel who left from Egypt…”
    (Bamidbar 33:1)
    Bnei Yisroel endured forty years of
    wandering through the desert, traveling
    from one stop to another. Picking oneself up
    and moving from one location to another is
    considered a most difficult transition, at
    times even a traumatic life event. Imagine
    the Dor HaMidbar, the Generation of the
    Desert, moving forty-two times, not
    knowing what lay ahead of them. They
    didn’t know where the next destination
    would be, nor were they given an ETA. Not
    always easy, but they did it.
    Sforno teaches that the Torah enumerates
    each of these forty-two moves to show the
    devotion and loyalty Bnei Yisroel had to
    HaShem, even under the most challenging
    and trying of circumstances.
    It’s summertime, a time during which my

    family, as well as many others, make the
    exodus from city to country. As we leave the
    city limits, we say Tefillas HaDerech, asking
    HaShem to watch over and protect us during
    our journey. To many of us, this really hit
    home this past Sunday night. Flash flooding
    in upstate New York created havoc, as roads
    buckled, cars became submerged, and
    driving turned hazardous. Greater tragedy
    was averted thanks to heroic first responders,
    including many from our own communities
    – all, of course, guided by the hand of
    The Talmud teaches that even if the road
    isn’t considered dangerous, and we don’t
    anticipate any problems, we are still
    obligated to say Tefillas HaDerech. My
    mother, Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis a”h,
    would say that we need Siyata D’shmaya,
    Divine protection no matter where we go,
    even when just crossing the street.
    As I read of Bnei Yisroel’s many travels,
    Tefillas HaDerech takes on a special
    meaning. “We should arrive at our
    destination for life, gladness and peace. …
    May you save us from every enemy and
    ambush, from robbers and wild animals

    along the way…” (from Tefillas HaDerech)
    Real fears. Real concerns, then and now.
    While our modes of transportation may
    have changed, the dangers and fears
    The Baal Shem Tov teaches that as Bnei
    Yisroel experienced forty-two journeys
    and encampments in the desert, so too,
    each of us experiences forty-two life
    journeys. As they faced challenges at each
    stop, and had to make moral and ethical
    decisions, so too, we have our dilemmas
    and difficulties at different phases in our
    To Bnei Yisroel, each stop was an
    opportunity for growth and development.
    Each stop another rung on the spiritual

    ladder of life. Even the names of the forty-
    two encampments reflect the life experiences

    of the nation.
    The tefillah “Ana B’Koach, Please, by the
    strength of Your right hand”, is a prayer
    asking HaShem to use His koach, His
    strength and might to guide and protect us
    on our personal life journeys, to give us
    understanding and clarity in fulfilling our
    life mission.
    Ana B’Koach contains forty-two words.
    Forty-two words that correspond to our
    individual journeys. Additionally,
    Kabbalah teaches that when combined,
    the first letter of each of these words
    correspond to the unique forty-two-letter
    name of HaShem. We can perhaps derive
    from this, that just as HaShem was with
    Bnei Yisroel on their forty-two journeys,
    so too does He remain with us on our
    life’s forty-two journeys.
    Man is called a “holeich” – a being that is
    always on the go. In contrast, melochim,
    angels are called “omdim” – those who
    stand still, remaining in one place,
    without the potential of reaching higher
    Man doesn’t remain stationary. He either
    rises to greater heights, or sadly, stumbles
    and falls. Life is one big journey. Even
    when we think we are at rest, “between
    stops”, it is actually an opportunity for
    growth. We just need to open our eyes,
    see the opportunities before us, and utilize

    every moment as an occasion for self-
    development and improvement.

    Wherever life takes us, we come upon
    relevant and meaningful messages.
    Recently, I’ve been going for physical
    therapy. There, in the therapy gym, are
    “power sayings” painted on the walls to
    give a boost of inspiration and
    encouragement. One of the sayings is

    “Don’t let your challenges limit you – limit
    your challenges!” Another reads,
    “Movement is the best medicine!”
    Meaningful messages. Like the generation
    in the desert, we too have our challenges,
    and try to rise above them. To keep on
    moving, not only physically, but
    intellectually and spiritually as well.
    The verses enumerating the Jewish nation’s
    travels in the desert is recited by the Ba’al
    Korei in a sing-song manner. A lesson for us
    to take to heart. We all have our tests in life,
    our moments of despair. Times when we
    feel like giving up. But HaShem is always
    with us, just as He was with our ancestors in
    the desert, and throughout the long and
    arduous travels of our people over the
    Perhaps the song of the encampments is a
    reminder that no matter where life takes us,
    we should face our journey with strength,
    with a song, and the knowledge that
    HaShem never abandons His people.
    My father, HaRav Meshulem ben HaRav
    Osher Anshil HaLevi, zt”l didn’t have an
    easy journey through life. He arrived to the
    United States as a war orphan, without the
    support of parents or siblings. He married
    my mother, and together they embarked on
    a mission of building a Torah community on
    Long Island. That too, was a journey that
    came with its own hardships. His life took
    him through many twists and turns, and
    ultimately through a valiant battle against
    severe and painful illness. But through it all,
    he hummed tunes, he sang. No matter what
    the day brought, he would walk through the
    door with a smile. I never heard a harsh
    word, a raised voice, a complaint. Not even
    a hint of a problem. He knew that this was
    what HaShem wanted, and he accepted all
    the challenges he faced with unwavering
    bitachon, reliance on his Father in heaven.
    We are all travelers in this world. Pirkei
    Avos, Ethics of the Fathers teaches, “This
    world is a corridor to the World to
    Come.” (Ethics 4:16). Our life in this world
    is temporary. We are all just traveling
    through, on our way to our final destination.