וַיִכְּתֹּ֨ב מֹשֶׁ֜ה אֶת־מוֹצָאֵיהֶ֛ם לְמַסְעֵיהֶ֖ם עַל־פִּ֣י יְהֹוָ֑ה וְאֵ֥לֶּה מַסְעֵיהֶ֖ם לְמוֹצָאֵיהֶֽם׃
Vayich-tov Moshe, et-motza-eihem l’ma’s’eihem al’pi Adonai veiled mas’ei’hem l’motza’eihem.
“Moses recorded the starting points of [the Israelite’s] various marches as directed by Adonai.” Num:33:2
Moses and the Israelite people are about to complete their journey through the wilderness. Matot-Masei offers the Israelite’s a chance to reflect upon each step of their journey from Egypt to Canaan in preparation for entering the promised land. The text and list are extensive and specific. Further, each of the 42 steps of the journey Moses will recount is “directed by Adonai.” Moses’ list illustrates that God’s presence and guidance have infused each part of Israel’s forty-year desert trek.
When The Children of Israel hear Moses call out each step, they relive their past. It is this process that God has instructed through Moses, by which they are to prepare for their next step- the most extraordinary step they will take as a Peoplehood. Before they can embrace their new life as a nation living in the Promised Land, they must first take the time to examine how they culminated their momentous occasion. The people of Israel must also recognize and elevate the miracles that helped them mark this pinnacle.
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is fast approaching. Matot Masei charges us with a two-fold task we can begin as we approach the new year. We must examine our steps over the past eleven months as we enter a time of renewal. Only by understanding our previous actions will we truly understand who we are and why we are where we are at this moment. As we look ahead to those peak moments we are striving for it is essential to take the time to acknowledge all of the high and low points we have experienced in our past. We must remember God’s spark is always present in both our highest and most challenging moments.