Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
Earlier this week I wrote here about the couple from France that met in an ulpan for new immigrants and got married. They connected what happened to them with this week's Torah portion - Massei (journeys) - since it hints at the journeys in their lives that brought them together here in the Land of Israel. But what happens when the journey is grueling? What happens in the middle of it when difficulties arise and painful events take place?
This week the Ezer Mizion summer camp was held for more than 120 families with a child or parent who is a cancer patient. Rabbi Chananya Cholak, founder of the association who also lost his wife to cancer, passed a message along to the families. It included what the Baal Shem Tov wrote regarding this week's parasha that recounts all the stops made during the people's journey through the desert to the Promised Land.
"Every human being makes many journeys between his birth and his return to the world from which he came. Leaving his mother's womb is like leaving Egypt, and afterwards he goes on many journeys, until he reaches the next world. And the details of the desert journey written in the Torah show the correct path forward for every Jew."
We are on a journey from the moment we are born, explained Rabbi Cholak. Sometimes it is difficult and challenging, sometimes we experience unexpected difficulties at places where we stop along the way. But this is our Exodus from Egypt, as we cope with one challenge after the next, until we reach 120 years of age. We all have a journey we must take. We are also obligated to learn from every place where we stop - including places where painful events take place - by elevating and strengthening ourselves through prayer and through hope that our journey will have a happy ending.