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When stopping is an opportunity for moving forward

מנוחה - פרשת מסעי

* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

There are times when everything seems stuck. We live in a world of achievement, competition, and speed whose pace, at times, is too fast for us. Sometimes we stop by the side of the road.

This week we read parashat Pikudei, the last parasha in the book of Exodus. Commenting on the final passage of the parasha, in summarizing the travels of the people, Rashi writes: "The place of their encampment is also called a journey."

There is a powerful message here: The time the children of Israel spend moving forward is called a journey, but the time spent camping in a way station, when God tells them to just wait in place, is part of the journey, too, since stopping is an opportunity to learn, grow, and advance. Our commentators explain that it is precisely through each encampment that the people gain the strength needed for the next leg of their journey.

If we find ourselves in a "way station" while it seems that everyone else is already married or working or achieving, we do not have to relate to such a period as a waste of time, as if nothing is happening. It is just another chapter of life, another opportunity for growth and development, even while this chapter is taking place internally and hidden from view. It is worthwhile to remind ourselves at such times that "the place of their encampment is also called a journey."

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