Posted on July 28, 2022 (5782) By Rabbi Label Lam | Series: | Level:

Moshe wrote their goings out according to their journeys at the bidding of HASHEM, and these were their journeys according to their going out…” (Bamidbar 33:2)

These are the journeys: Why were these journeys recorded? To inform us of the kindliness of the Omnipresent…-Rashi

This is the introduction to the 42 journeys made by the Jewish People during their 40-year stay in the desert. There are a few points to take note of here. Their journeys were “at the bidding of HASHEM”. They were not wandering aimlessly. Every move was according to Divine guidance. Also, it seems that Moshe is keeping a journal, a travel log and writing down all of the journeys. What would be the purpose of documenting all the traveling that the Jewish People did? Rashi tells us that it is in order to inform us of HASHEM’s kindliness. How so?!

Years ago, I started a big project traveling throughout New York City and the New York Metropolitan area. I was charged with learning Torah with big businessmen, doctors, lawyers, men of industry, and influence. Before taking my first baby step onto the field I realized I had a problem. I had been learning in Yeshiva for years and teaching in Hebrew Day School but I had little experience in the business world and I was feeling outmatched and ill equipped to sit before people with vastly more practical and worldly experience than I had. So, I approached a senior colleague for some advice. Here was a man with many-many years of experience in the field. For sure he could answer my burning question. I asked him, “Which periodicals shall I subscribe to? What should I be reading and studying in order to remain current and in the conversation?” He looked at me oddly. Then he gave an answer I never expected but it turned out to be priceless for this project and ever since. He said, “You don’t need to subscribe to any particular periodical. Just know your own story! Know your story!” I was more than a little surprised but I took it to heart. I went home and started writing my life story.

It was an amazingly therapeutic process and it has proven to be very practical. I have learned to spell out some version of that “story” whether I have 2 minutes in the elevator or an hour in front of a large audience. People are always fascinated and beyond curious to hear about me and how I transitioned from being an all American-Jewish kid who went to public school and was captain of the football, basketball, and baseball teams, but ended up in Yeshiva and is raising a Torah family. How does one get from here to there or there to here?

Maybe that explains why over and over again the Torah records not only where the Jewish People traveled to but where they came from each time. That’s part of the story. Each move is a fascinating chapter by itself. How does one transition from there, wherever it is we came from, to here, to where we find ourselves now? Life is way too interesting. Truth is stranger and more symphonic than fiction!

King Solomon writes, “Trust in HASHEM with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways know Him, and He will make your ways straight.” (Mishlei 3:5-6) What is King Solomon the wisest of all men telling us here? This is how to live a successful life. Trust in HASHEM with your whole heart. We cannot possibly manage enough details in life to create a guaranteed result. We need to work with our Supreme Partner, HASHEM. That is Bitachon. It’s a division of labor. I do my job and my All-Knowing Partner I must trust will take care of the rest. What is my job? Know HASHEM in all my ways. We follow daily Torah instructions, some spiritual by nature and others quite earthy. We are painting by numbers. Standing up close to the canvas of life it is hard to discern what we are doing. When we stand back and observe where we have been, a beautiful picture is revealed. We just tried to do the right thing at each moment and in the end a masterpiece emerges. “Who wrote this beautiful story?!” It can only be attributed to the author of all existence and the playwright of history and your story.