Rebecca Masinter

Parshas Maasei - The Value of Journeying

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Parshas Maasei is the parshah of the journeys.  That’s the meaning of the name of the Parsha and the first sentence opens, "These are the journeys of Bnai Yisrael". Additionally, before listing the journeys the Torah states that Moshe recorded the journeys as they traveled.  Finally, we actually get started listing the forty-two journeys from Mitzraim to Eretz Yisrael.

If most of us were to keep a travel diary of an amazing trip we took, I think our journal would be titled with our destination, “My Trip to Thailand”, our first sentence would include our destination, “I went on this incredible trip to Thailand”, and the bulk of our travel diary would be about our destination rather than the journey, flight, layover, and Uber that we used on our way to Thailand.

Why does the Torah do the exact opposite?  Why does the Torah repeatedly emphasize the journey instead of the destination?  The answer is so simple and yet so profound.  The Torah wants us to know that life is about the journey, not the arrival.  This can be a very foreign concept to us.  We tend to be focused on achieving milestones. We think, "I will do this when the baby sleeps through the night", "...when summer comes", "...when the kids go back to school", "...when the kids grow up" and so on.  We’re so focused on getting to the next point that we don’t appreciate living in the moment.  The joy in the journey is lost because we’re fixated on reaching the destination. 

As a mother and teacher I see that we tend to do this with our children too.  The process of learning and growing is often overlooked in favor of emphasizing the benchmarks. The destination seems all important - get this child to read, to compute, to write, and we lose the appreciation for and enjoyment of the process.

Parshas Maasei, the Parsha of the journey, is a reminder to each of us that Hashem wants us to be present on the journey.  The destination is all in Hashem’s hands anyway. Only He determines when if ever, we or our children will actually achieve any specific goal.  That really isn’t up to us.  What is up to us is how we journey.  Staying present in the process, appreciating the process, recommitting ourselves to our journey, and doing the same with our children - savor each stage, appreciate the slow process of growth and maturity, and let Hashem take care of each of our destinations. 


Photo by Matt Howard on Unsplash