Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” John Lennon once sang.
This week we start to read the book of Numbers, a book that’s all about “while wallking along the way.” It’s about what happens in between – between leaving Egypt and entering the Land of Israel, a description of our travels in the desert. On the surface, we are not talking about an important period of time. We could ignore it completely and focus exclusively on the climactic moments of our journey. Yet there are commentators who claim that this is the most important book among the five books of Moses.
Most of our lives happen in between, in dull and colorless moments, and therefore we must ask: How do we feel about the journey? Do we appreciate its value and significance or do we minimize it and wait impatiently for it to end? Do we properly take advantage of these in between moments (standing in line, stuck in traffic, waiting), to say nothing of transitional periods in our lives? Or do we just pass the time imagining what awaits us at our desired destination? The Kotzker Rebbe made a powerful statement about this, instructing us not to live with a feeling that we are always waiting for something but rather to concentrate on the here and now: “I am never on my way to any place since I am always already there”