I’m sitting in the airport, and can’t help but notice something: air travel makes people feel important. In the airport people carry themselves differently, as if they matter. You can just see it written on their faces as they purposefully wheel suitcases down the terminal, or grab a bite before they board. Even after the trip is over, people indulge in stories of their travel experiences as though they are heroic battle accounts. Trivial stories of brusque flight attendants or stubborn customs officials are blown into epic tales of suspense and intrigue, analyzed blow by blow.

Is it because the tickets are so expensive, or because between security, passport control and the flight crew, there are so many people assigned to deal with you? I think not. I think that travel makes people feel important because when traveling, we have a mission, a destination. And that means we matter. Here in the airport, we are going places, literally and figuratively.

This week’s Parshah, Massei, recounts the 42 stops the Jews made throughout their 40-year sojourn in the desert. The verse describes all 42 as journeys “leaving Egypt,” which is strange, because to leave Egypt requires but one journey. After the first journey, the Jews were already out of Egypt. If so, why does the verse describe all 42 of their journeys as ”leaving Egypt”?

Chassidut explains that leaving Egypt is not a one-time event, but rather an ongoing journey. Because, in addition to the physical Egypt, there is also a spiritual Egypt, an internal prison that suppresses spiritual growth. In fact, the Hebrew word for Egypt, Mitzrayim, means “boundaries” or “limitations,” and refers to limitations and constraints a Jew experiences in his or her G‑dly service. Materialism, apathy, laziness and other destructive habits are a spiritual Egypt, the towering walls that restrict our soul-expression.

And, in fact, the spiritual Egypt is more difficult to escape than its physical counterpart. True exodus from Egypt is not just about leaving the physical place, but also breaking free from the shackles of our spiritual Egypts.

However, on this path to becoming truly free, one journey is not enough, because today’s promised land becomes tomorrow’s Egypt. After each exodus, a new Egypt rears its head, replete with new challenges and constraints. And that is precisely why the Torah refers to all 42 journeys as “leaving Egypt.” Because each of the Jewish people’s 42 physical journeys represented another, deeper exodus from Egypt.

Every time a Jew experiences redemption from a personal Egypt, the Jewish people are brought closer to the collective redemption. Because we Jews are still on this journey, charged with the task of peeling away the falsehood of this physical world, this Egypt, and revealing the latent G‑dliness within all of creation. Our destination is the era of Moshiach, a time when we will be free from Egypt, and G‑dliness will be revealed.

A famous chassidic tale emphasizes this idea. Once a wealthy businessman visited the chassidic master Reb DovBer, the Maggid of Mezeritch. Spending the night in the Maggid’s home, he was struck by the abject poverty around him. “Rebbe,” he exclaimed, “how do you live in such dire poverty?”

The Maggid replied, “I might as well ask you the same question. For all you have is one small suitcase, and were it not for my hospitality, you would not have even had where to spend the night.”

Confused, the businessman replied, “But Rebbe, that is only because I am traveling. Back home I have a spacious house, a comfortable bed, sumptuous food and servants attending to my every whim. It is only when I am on the road that I have so little, because when traveling one can make do with little.”

“My friend,” responded the Maggid with a twinkle in his eye, “I too am traveling. My home is the afterlife, the place where souls are truly one with G‑d. Now, that I am traveling through this transient world, I too can make do with little.”

Our G‑d-given mandate is to break free of all Egypts and complete our journey. As we stand in the airport of history, we should feel proud and important to be on this mission, inspired and empowered to accomplish our task. When we all do our part, we will very soon arrive at our destination, the era of Moshiach.