These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

מסעי, mase’ei

Posted on August 2, 2011 by Avi Strausberg

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Road Weary

this parsha is aptly titled mase’ei meaning the travels of bnei yisrael.  and the Torah spares no expense to list every place from which they set out and made camp along the way.  in fact, the word ויסעו, meaning “they set out,” is written 42 times.  each time, this word is shortly followed by the word ויחנו, “they camped,” at the next location on the journey.

just reading the play-by-play of moshe’s travel log is exhausting.  after a few months of backpacking around new zealand, i found myself worn out and longing for a more permanent home.  every day meant carrying my life’s contents on my back, the same two shirts, a pair of shorts, pants, a waterbottle.  and, every night meant unrolling my sleeping bag only to restuff it into its little sleepsack the very next morning.

the jewish people, and more specifically, the few that managed to stay alive throughout the many plagues that devastated the population, lived this transient existence for forty years.  and now, in the final steps of their journey, they stand just across the border from the home that is their inheritance.

spot him at bus stops
dust caked in every crevice
bent beneath the weight

may that weary traveler in each of us find a little rest,