Parashat Masei begins with a listing of all of the 42 stops the Jewish people made on their way from Egypt to Israel. Our mystical tradition teaches that just as there were 42 journeys from Egypt to Israel, so each person makes 42 primary life journeys. Every person also has 42 more subtle journeys every year of his life; and 42 very subtle shifts every day, from waking up (a type of leaving exile) to sleep (redemption). We are always on our journey to fulfill our mission in life.

We have to…see which mitzvahs we truly excel in using our unique individual talents….

The Rebbe Rayatz writes that when a soul descends to this corporeal plane to enclothe itself in a physical body, it has its own unique mission to accomplish. He warns us that we have to be careful not to be among those that intentionally or unintentionally make a mistake.

To illustrate, he tells a story about a wealthy man and his wagon driver: In those times a clever person could go to the big city markets once, twice or three times a year, stock up on lucrative merchandise, sell it with substantial profit, and still have most of the year free to study Torah and fulfill the commandments with care. Just such a wealthy person was making one of his annual business trips with his wagon driver. On their way they stopped for Shabbat, rather late Friday afternoon, in a certain town where they were not known. The wagon driver dropped off his employer at the hotel and continued on to the stable to provide for the horses and wagon. The wealthy man rented a room, went to the mikveh, put on his Shabbat clothes, and set off relatively early to the synagogue to study, say Psalms and prepare for Shabbat. On his way, he passed another Jew whose wagon was stuck in the mud. Helping out a Jew in such a situation is a big mitzvah, and, underestimating what was involved, the wealthy businessman lent a hand. Within a very short time, not being in very good shape, he was covered from head to toe in mud and, even worse, had injured himself. With only a few minutes to spare he made it to synagogue, filthy and in pain.

In the meantime, his wagon driver made his arrangements, got dressed for Shabbat and came to synagogue. Getting there a bit early, he began to say Psalms. He noticed the large number of poor guests there and invited them to come with him for the Shabbat meal, gathering a quorum (10) of guests. When the prayers began and the synagogue's sextant tried to find some guests for the wealthy patron and the other townspeople, all the poor guests answered that they had already been invited. After services, the wealthy man went back to his hotel broken, physically and spiritually, while the wagon driver walked with his guests to enjoy a festive meal resplendent in the fulfillment of the commandment of taking in the needy.

After 120 years, when both were standing in front of the heavenly court, it was decreed that the driver needed to return to this world to fulfill the commandment of helping another Jew, while the wealthy man had to return because he needed to fulfill one more time the commandment of taking in needy guests. If the wealthy man had only asked his wagon driver to help get the wagon out of the mud, the driver could have done it better and they would have been saved having to return to this world.

Each person has his mission to accomplish on his life journey. We just have to know what it is, stay focused and not inappropriately exchange our mission for that of someone else. We have to look at our lives and see which mitzvahs we truly excel in using our unique individual talents. This will give us a clear direction as to what our mission is. May we merit to distinguish our mission and to fulfill it in the best possible way.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

Copyright 2003 by, a project of Ascent of Safed (// All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, unless with permission, in writing, from Kabbala Online.