This week’s Parashah Torah Portion Matot-Massei is taken from Numbers 33:1-36:13. Join Dr. Jeffery Myers, as he expounds on the 40-year wilderness experience the Israelites went through; The spiritual growth development, the achievement of new experiences and modes of thinking that transformed them, and transformes US, from the inside out, today!
Follow along in the AUDIO PODCAST, by clicking on the play button below, and reading along with the notes, as you listen to today's Parashah Torah Portion:
Lion of Judah Speaks: Parashah Torah Portion Matot-Massei - Numbers 33:1-36:13
As we look at the journey of the children of Israel it is summed up in this last Torah portion. It could seem a little depressing as it describes the various stops during their 40-year ordeal in the wilderness. Ideally it would have been nice to leave Egypt, make a quick stop at Mt. Sinai and march on to the Promised Land. The stark contrast with the reality of their long journey punctuated by death and despair seems tragic…is tragic!
It is clear to us, as it must have been to them, that for the most part, they were not really going anywhere. But at least they didn’t stay stuck…they moved on! They moved on through death, despair and circumstances. They were in a sense…walking in circle! The main objective was not arriving at their desired destination.
Most of us view the world in a linear fashion with a clearly defined beginning and a clear end. We have objectives and we expend time and energy approaching our goals along a linear axis, with the objective serving as the terminal point. Most of us see our lives this way and we gauge success by the progress made along the path that leads to the fulfillment of our objectives. I am not saying this is wrong but our lives have many cyclical elements as well. Our calendar marks the passing of days and years although each day is different and powerful, every 7th day we return to the holy Sabbath. We celebrate the appearance of the new moon which marks new months and holidays which return.
The cyclical nature of the calendar makes many of the significant aspects of our lives more of a circle than a straight line. Let’s look at the children of Israel and their journey in the desert. They were not simply trying to get from Point A to Point B…from Egypt to Israel. If that was the only goal then we can say that the 40-year journey was a failure. A distance that could have been traveled in months that took years.
However, the desert experience went beyond the linear, goal-oriented view of history, it incorporated the circular, cyclical approach in a very significant way. The goal-oriented, linear mindset governs our daily life as we rush from place to place. Even though we are capable of altering our own perceptions of time and progress, a small delay in the daily commute is enough to throw us off our game—shake us up! Our experience of the same travel time when we are on vacation is completely different. Our perceptions become completely altered by the smallest change in our linear approach to time.
When we go to Africa our perceptions are changed or when we went to Israel this last time on our own instead of being on an official tour. When we had no particular goal in mind other than to appreciate our surroundings—we noticed things we normally didn’t notice or that had eluded us before on other trips. Seeing the world in a cyclical way is not about being without a destination; rather the objective is the journey itself. So in Jewish most joyous celebrations…we dance in a circle! We celebrate the circle of Jewish life which means: enjoying the journey, taking time to see ourselves as part of that circle.
The sages explain that in the Messianic future the righteous will dance in a circle and Elohim Himself will stand at its center. It is only then will we fully understand that the ultimate destination was the circle itself, and Elohim is, and has always been right there in the center, in our midst all along!
Likewise, the weekly cycle that culminates in Shabbat is not meant to be destination-oriented. We are not meant to disregard the 6 days of the week that lead to Shabbat. Our goal should also include the 6 days between one Shabbat and the next by allowing what we gained on the 7th day, spiritually, emotionally, communally and intellectually energize and uplift each subsequent day of the week.
By allowing some of the holiness of the Sabbath to “spill over” into our weekly consciousness, we will begin to enjoy not only the destination, the holiness of Shabbat but also the journey through our week that takes us there. The story of the Israelites’ travels in the desert is the story of a nation that was not yet ready to enter the Promised Land.
The 40-year delay was not simply a punishment! In order to be worthy of the Land of Israel the Israelites had to experience a journey that would help them grow, help them achieve spiritual and national maturity. The needed time and space to achieve new modes of thinking and new modes of experience. Circling the desert was a wonderful introduction to the cyclical experience of the Jewish calendar and Jewish history. It afforded an opportunity to do more than simply arrive at the destination. It taught them to see and appreciate the scenery along the way. The beauty of life and what it has to offer.
They entered the Promised Land and Numbers 34 sketches out the borders of the Land and the parceling out to the 12 tribes. We can read about geographical Israel with little interest but we should care about the Land of Israel. Why should we care? Because Elohim cares! This particular piece of real estate is where the majority of the Bible is played out. In the Word, the Land is a central concern. If it matters to Elohim, it should matter to His children.
When you first visit Israel, everything comes alive in the Word. It is the cradle of our faith. Our Master’s feet walked upon its soil and stones. It is Elohim’s holy Land in which He placed His city (Jerusalem) and His Temple and caused His Presence to dwell there! It is also our inheritance and the Presence of Elohim permeates the Land. Deut. 11:12 says, “It is a Land Adonai your Yah cares for; The eyes of Adonai your Yah are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.” The prophets say that when Messiah comes, He will gather all the people of Israel back to the Land of Israel. I don’t know about you…I can’t wait!
Shabbat Shalom Mishpocha,
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Come and let us celebrate the Lamb of Yah. Celebrate the Sabbath of Adonai. Surrender your life to Him and let it be known… the wonders of our Yah! May this Sabbath bring you blessings and shalom. See you at the altar.