"These are the journeys…." (Num. 33:1)

The Baal Shem Tov taught that these forty-two journeys are also the forty-two spiritual journeys we make throughout our life. We begin from birth, and the nation's exodus from Egypt is both its own birth as a nation and an allegory for every individual birth, the liberation of the fetus from the confines of the womb into the freedom of the outside world, where it can develop and become independent. The final journey is to the spiritual Promised Land, the afterlife that awaits us after death.

…they are all holy and positive.

Although some of the intervening journeys in the Israelite's trek through the desert were accompanied by setbacks, in their spiritual origin and in the way they are meant to be reflected in our lives they are all holy and positive. If we choose properly between good and evil, we will live out these phases of life in the way G‑d intended; if, like the generation of the desert, we make some wrong choices, they will have to be expressed as setbacks.

Even though we can always transform the setbacks we have suffered in our lives into positive growth experiences, it is still better not to have to fall back on this. With regard to our future journeys, let us try to always choose to live them out in positive, holy ways.

Copyright 2001 chabad of california / www.lachumash.org