42 Journeys of the Soul

This weeks Torah portion is the final parsha in Bamidbar: Maasei

In a sicha from 5719 (1959) the Lubavitcher Rebbe expounds on the Torah’s record of the 42 Journeys of the Children of Israel. The Alter Rebbe of Chabad, Schnuer Zalman of Liadi says that we must “live with the times!”, and that means applying the weekly parsha into our lives. What then can we learn in our own life from these 42 journeys? The Baal Shem Tov teaches that this represents the 42 journeys in our own life. The exodus from Egypt is our birth and the entering of Eretz Yisroel, the Land of Israel represents the land of life, or ones highest spiritual achievement. The beginning of the Sicha is based on the teachings of the Degel Machaneh Ephraim who was the Baal Shem Tov’s grandson, which in itself is interesting as a stereotypical criticism of Chabad Chassidus philosophy is their exclusivity to teachings of their own Rebbeim.

One journey that stands out is the journey to Kirvos HaTaavah. This is the location where the Children of Israel complain of a lack of meat to eat, as the spiritually infused Manna could not satiate them. Hashem then sends a wind to gather flocks of quail up from around the world. They descend upon the camp in such quantity that each person collected 1,000 lb. of meat. Lets remind ourselves that there were 600,000 men between 20-60. That means there were roughly 2-3 millions Jews who each gathered 1,000lb of meat.

The place is called Kivros HaTaavah because the Jewish people were given the opportunity to bury their pleasure, removing the pleasure for worldly desires from the Jewish people forever! Alas, what was buried in the end was thousands of Jews who chose the worldly pleasure of meat over the spiritual pleasure of the Manna.

The generation who saw the sea split and stood at Har Sinai was not able to overcome their desire for worldly pleasures, then what hope to we have?

The Gemara (Berachos 5b) states that the “Camel fits the load” meaning that Hashem only provides us challenges in life that we are able to overcome. This is why it is impossible for us to judge anyone as their load is not our load and we have idea what is inside the load they are transporting.

We must look into these 42 journeys and realize that each and every one of us has the power to overcome our material desires and transform the material into spiritual. This does not mean going to live in a cave, living a life of abstinence. It means that we must be in this world and use materialism in ways that will help us to serve Hashem. This means using the material world as a catalyst to infuse G-dliness into the world.

We should all be blessed to achieve this level in our Avodas Hashem and with this speedily see the coming of Moshiach, the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash, and be reunited with the Rebbe Tzidkenu B’Karov Mamash.


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