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Know the Stops: Matot Masei

The Road Trip

No doubt many of you have been or will be on vacation sometime this summer.  These family times together often produce the fondest of family memories – even when things don’t go perfectly.  When we look back, the pictures and souvenirs from such trips strengthen our memories.

This is important and mirrors a lesson from out of our double parshah this week.  The Torah gives all the place Jews stopped in 40 years in the desert from Egypt to Israel.  Why were they in the desert 40 years?  Why was it important to know places they stopped?

The Bible commentator – Rabbeinu Bechayeh explains God wanted to strengthen the faith of the Jews and so mentions places to remind them of miracles during those years: manna, the water well of Miriam, and the clouds of glory that protected them from dangers.

Remembering & reviewing helped them to remember and to have faith in God.

We can do the same thing in our own lives. Looking back, we can sometimes piece together events and see God’s hand guiding us along the way. Something may have looked very bad at the time it happened. Later, when we have time to look back and reflect, we see that the event was not bad at all, but a step on the way to something very good. Reviewing these acts of kindness that God has done for us in our lives will strengthen our own faith.

So – just like you would do with a family vacation, do with your life as a whole -– you can do this personally, by keeping a journal, or talking about important things with your family, or you can use the tools that Judaism has for keeping track of important things – like all of our holidays and rituals – those things help remind you about being good and about God, just like pictures of vacation would remind you!

Stop. Think. Put things together. See the big picture, it’s a good way to become a better person and grow closer to God.

About the Author
Aaron Benson is a Conservative rabbi on Long Island, serving at the North Shore Jewish Center. He is the current president of the Suffolk County Board of Rabbis and a chaplain for the Suffolk County Police Department.
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