Monday, July 1, 2013

Truckin' I'm A Going Home Whoa, Whoa, Baby, Back Where I Belong (Robert Hunter & Jerry Garcia - "Truckin")

Well sleep away camp finally started. While it has been a busy and somewhat difficult time for our three children; our soon to be teen-ager seemed to have the most difficult time. After weeks of list making, shopping, schlepping, shopping some more, labeling, listening to the whining, and the crying about going to a place where she doesn’t know anyone and watching the fits and starts of  numerous attempts to pack, finally the moment is at hand. The kids are at camp; they are in their bunks and they are meeting their bunk mates. There have been numerous pep talks. There have been reminders of previous experiences that should provide a source strength and confidence. However I have learned that my reminding her of those experiences is not nearly as effective as her recalling those experiences and her learning to derive strength and confidence herself.

This morning we read from Parsha Matot/Masei. These are the final two parshiot of Sefer BaMidbar (Book of Numbers).  Like the end of most books, these parshiot tie up numerous loose ends. It ties up the loose ends of the narrative such as how to deal with the Midianites following episode with Pinchas, the daughters of Tzelophchad and issues of inheritance, as well as the borders of Eretz Canaan, and the Cities of Refuge. All these final issues must be dealt with since, from a narrative perspective, Bnai Yisroel is spiritually and physically ready to cross the Yarden River and enter into Eretz Canaan. Bnai Yisroel is about to realize the Brit, the covenant that God made with the Avot: Avraham, Yiztchak and Yaakov.

Whenever an individual, a group, a community or a people stand on the precipice of a realized goal; looking back upon the journey only makes sense.  Whenever an individual, a group, a community or a people experience anxiety about the ability to handle future unknowns; looking back at past lessons also seems to make a lot of sense. We look back upon the journey for a variety of reasons. First we look back upon the journey in sheer wonderment; we cannot believe we have traveled so far and finally achieved. Second, we look back upon the journey in order to provide context and meaning for all those who joined in the journey towards the middle or the end. Third, we look back upon the journey as a series of opportunities that were necessary in order to realize the stated goal. Fourth, we look back knowing that if we overcame past obstacles and fears, then we should be able to overcome future anxieties, obstacles and fears.  Eilah Masei V’nai Yisroel Asher Yatzu M’Eretz Mitztrayim L'tzivotam  B’Yad Moshe v’AharonThese are the journeys of the Children of Israel, who went forth from the Land of Egypt according to the legions under the hand of Moshe and AharonV’Eilah Maseihem L’MotzaheihemAnd these are the their journeys according to their departures. (Num. 33:1-2) God commanded Moshe to keep a record of their travels according to their Maseihem - destination. This is means of recording based upon positive expectations, when there were no travails, issues or problems. Moshe also kept a record of their travels based upon Motzaheihem their departures, when there were travails, issues and great difficulties, when people murmured against God, against Moshe etc. Now that Bnai Yisroel stands on the brink of entering Eretz Canaan, all the experiences, both positive and negative gave Bnai Yisroel an opportunity to learn Faith.  The journey and all that was experienced during that 40-year journey was necessary in order to arrive at this point in time.

Hopefully, as our daughter experiences her first few nights at sleep away camp, experiences the gnawing fear of wondering if she will make new friends, hopefully she will be able to recall her own journey into new and unknown experiences. Hopefully she will remember that she made friends quickly and easily when she moved to California, when she arrived here in Toronto, or when she played for her school basketball team. Hopefully she will realize that the anxiety is really in her own mind rather than in the reality of her experiences or the reality of each new day at camp.

Rav Yitz

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