Faith for Their Own Journey

Yael Eckstein  |  July 28, 2022

Desert road

Here are the stages in the journey of the Israelites when they came out of Egypt by divisions under the leadership of Moses and Aaron. — Numbers 33:1

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is a double reading, Matot-Massei, from Numbers 30:2–36:13. Matot means “branches,” and Massei means “journeys.”

Have you ever had the experience of looking back on your life’s journey and finally understanding what God was doing? Life is full of ups and downs and most of the time we just don’t know what God has planned for us.

I know this is true in my life. From meeting my husband, to the decision to make aliyah (immigrate) to Israel, to the monumental impact of my father’s untimely and unexpected death, there have been so many changes that I just didn’t fully understand at the time.

But as is so often the case, as time passes and we gain perspective, God’s plan becomes clearer for us to see. Events that confused us when they were unfolding make sense in retrospect. This is why it’s so important to take time to reflect on our journey and give thanks to God for leading us through.

Faith for Their Own Journey

We see this lesson in this week’s Torah portion. We read, “Here are the stages in the journey of the Israelites when they came out of Egypt by divisions under the leadership of Moses and Aaron.”

God commanded Moses to record the more than forty locations where the children of Israel camped during their sojourn in the desert. Other than the names of places, there is almost no information in this lengthy list. Most of these places were not even the location of any significant event along the way. What was the point of recording this list in the Bible?

The great 12th century Rabbi Moses Maimonides explained that God commanded Moses to record all the places where Israel traveled and camped so that future generations would recall all the miracles that God performed for the children of Israel. They would see that most of these locations were in the barren desert where there is no food or water.

Future generations would be able to appreciate how God sustained Israel along the way and gain faith for their own journey ahead as well.

Your Turn:

Take some time to recall your own personal journey. Thank God for sustaining you through everything.

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