The last few months have provided us with an opportunity to pause and to reflect on our life’s journey. The pandemic has given some of us more time to spend with our families and some of us less time. Simple things we have all taken for granted have been taken from us, other things that we have neglected have been added back to our daily routine.
Parshat Matot-Masei are summer parshiot. If it were not for the pandemic, I would be at Camp Ramah in Canada enjoying my 46th straight experience there. What a long and rewarding journey it has been.
Parshat Masei recounts the journeys of the children of Israel. Rabbi Abraham Twerski teaches us that “enumeration of the journeys and encampments was to review all that had transpired during the 40 years in the desert.” The Midrash imagines God telling Moses: “Write down all the places through which Israel journeyed that they may recall the miracles I wrought for them.” Forty-two stops, one after the other after the other. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch teaches us that when God made the Israelites break camp, the purpose was always to reach a fresh goal. Each journey was a progress toward a goal. As Twerski says, “A person who has a purpose and goal in life will pause every now and then to assess how much they have accomplished toward reaching their objective.”
I have been blessed that my journey at Camp Ramah which started in the summer of 1975 has been so enriching and fulfilling. As I pause this summer and realize how much I miss it, I think back to 45 summers of memories. I can close my eyes and feel the sunshine and the cool breeze off the lake. Most importantly, I recall and appreciate how wonderful it is to be immersed in an observant Jewish community surrounded by the energy of young people, their idealism, their ruach.
Soon to be 65, I can also ponder my future, my goals and objectives for the future. Those of us who have a purpose and a goal in life will use this time as a gift to pause — to remind ourselves that which makes us special, and if we need, to rekindle our purpose and our place for our future journeys.
Stay safe, be strong. And Shabbat Shalom. PJC
Rabbi Chuck Diamond is rabbi of Kehillah La La.