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    Journeying as a Jew – Mass’ei

    Four decades of journeys and resting-places brought the Israelites to the Promised Land.

    Samson Raphael Hirsch remarks that not only did each journey bring them physically from one place to another, but as Jews it also led them to a higher spiritual level. They progressed not only to a destination but also to a destiny.

    Though the story is ancient, its implications are timeless. Movement from place to place has always been part of Jewish and human experience. People migrate (sometimes to escape persecution), they travel for business, they pursue educational opportunities elsewhere, they go on holiday. But the question today is whether a Jew on the move is moving as a Jew.

    King Solomon says, “In all your ways know Him” (Prov. 3:6). This means never being a Jonah, who thinks you can take a holiday from God.

    It means not leaving your Siddur behind at home, or, if you are a male, your tallit and tefillin. It means saying Tefillat HaDerech before you set out, and HaGomel when you arrive.

    It means remembering the Sabbath day to keep it holy, and not davka setting out on your journey on Shabbat. It also means eating as a Jew wherever you are, and not saying kashrut is all too difficult.

    It means finding a shule, en route or at your destination – not just to check out the architecture but to daven too, and to meet the local community.

    To move as a Jew also implies not lowering your Jewish moral and ethical standards wherever you are or whatever the temptation.

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