Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Truckin' I'm A Going Home (Robert Hunter, Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh - "Truckin'")

I had a chance to participate in that mid-summer sleep away camp ritual called “Visitor’s Day”. It was not as simple as jumping in the car on a Sunday morning, drive a couple of hours, see the kids and come home. I wish it was that easy. For me nothing could have been further from reality. So late Saturday night at I started driving in pouring rain. I had planned to stop at my parents’ home in Rochester.  I arrived around 1:30 am, and saw father awake, and awaiting my arrival. The good news was that I made great time. The bad news was I felt guilty because I had somehow prevented him from going to bed and an earlier hour. Still, I would be able to get 5-6 hours of sleep and, on Sunday morning I would be ready to drive another three and half hours and be at camp to enjoy a picnic lunch. I was up bright and early the next morning, I saw my mother for a few minutes, said goodbye. I saw that my wife texted me a list of things to pick up for our picnic so I stopped at Wegmans. Well one just doesn’t run into Wegmans and run out. Wegmans is the Supermarket of Supermarkets. One normally walks into Wegmans and is in awe of the numerous products, the colors and the smells. After an hour, I eventually picked up everything on the list and started driving. The highway was familiar, the exits were familiar, the route was the familiar, and the trees were familiar. The landscape was magnificent and familiar. The farms were picturesque and familiar. I must have made this drive hundreds and hundreds of times. With the horizon stretched out before me, I had a sense of constancy and comfort. Nothing had changed. I saw my wife, and my children. I had a few minutes alone with each child and my wife. I even had a moment when I saw my wife and my kids together, helping carry our picnic to the spot and had a “moment”. The “Moment” was a sense that it was worth the drive just to see them helping each other shlep all this stuff. It was a sense that it was worth the drive for me to realize that I am blessed. So we at lunch. I hung around for another couple of hours and began the long drive back to Toronto. I stopped in Rochester for Dinner. Waited for thirty minutes at the border because of traffic and then waited a little over an hour on the QEW Highway because of construction. The final 40 minutes of the drive was a blur of fog and exits and one thought sat in my head. I can’t believe I drove 9 hours on a Sunday in order to spend 2 ½ hours with my family, either I am crazy or really appreciate the fact that I am blessed.    

This Shabbat, we read from Parsha Ma’asei. It is the final Parsha of Sefer BaMidbar. Ma’asei begins with Moshe’s recording of all the places that B’nai Yisroel had traveled during the course of its 40 years of wandering. Moshe makes the final preparations for B’nai Yisroel’s entrance into Eretz Canaan: including the establishment of national and tribal boundaries. Also, Moshe gives his decision to the Daughters of Zelophchad (Parshat Pinchas) who have inherited their father’s tribal holdings. Moshe informs B’nai Yisroel of inter-tribal marriage while simultaneously retaining the integrity of tribal boundaries. Also six cities of refuge are established for those individuals who have committed manslaughter, (and accidental death) and are fleeing the avenging family member.

Whenever an individual, a group, a community or a people stand on the precipice of realizing a stated goal; looking back upon the journey only makes 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. Eilah Masei V’nai Yisroel Asher Yatzu M’Eretz Mitzrayim 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 B’nai Yisroel stands on the brink of entering Eretz Canaan, all the experiences, both positive and negative gave B’nai 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.
We all have journeys. Some are a lifetime. Some are a few hours. No matter the distance, and no matter the final objective, every once in a while it is important to stop and take stock of how far one has traveled. Every once in a while it is important to check out the surrounding of the journey and not only an eye on the final objective. Sometimes there is value in the journey for the journey’s sake and not just the objective. Mathematically speaking, it was kind of crazy to drive 9 hours in order to spend 2 ½ hours with my family. Except for a few delays that were beyond my control, it was also cleared my head, allowed me to take a look around and see how far I have come in my life and contemplate my future.
                Rav Yitz

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