Personal journeys.

From the moment that you left the homey warmth of your mother’s womb to enter our cold, sterile world, you began your personal journey.

At every moment, you step forward. Every characteristic, every talent, and every encounter contribute to reaching your final destination—to use your G‑d-given abilities to accomplish your particular mission.

Enthusiastically, you set out on the long trek. You imagine that the journey will be straight, with clearly delineated directions and signposts. You assume you are well-equipped.

But instead of a well-paved road, you encounter a bumpy, winding route. You find yourself changing lanes often, following detours and side roads, stopping at rest areas and even making some U-turns. There are moments, even days or weeks, when you feel lost and confused. You lose confidence.

Setbacks. Your journey is full of them. But each stop, each rest, even each wrong turn is ultimately helping in your journey forward.

These are the journeys of the children of Israel, going out of the land of Egypt . . . They journeyed from —— and they camped at —— . . . (Numbers 33:1–49)

The forty-two encampments from Egypt to the Promised Land are replayed in every individual’s life, in his journey from his soul’s descent to this world at his birth until his return to his Source.(The Baal Shem Tov)

The stopping and resting stations are also part of the journey towards the “Holy Land.” Pauses, interruptions, and setbacks are an inadvertent part of your journey on earth. Each stop, even those that appear as setbacks and wrong turns, are points of learning, prodding you further.(Lubavitcher Rebbe)

Each setback is meant to provide you with a new perception, awareness or sensitivity.

Yesterday’s destination is now surpassed, and a new one must be set and attained. To reach your goal, you must overcome self-imposed limitations and constrictions in your attitude or outlook. This is all part of your personal journey, forward and onward . . .

Relationship journeys.

She is the one for you. You just knew it from the moment you set your eyes on her.

Beauty, intelligence, sensitivity.

You gazed deeply into her eyes and saw to the depths of her soul, a reflection mirroring your own. You set out on the ultimate journey of your idyllic life together.

And then you woke up one morning and realized that your blissful journey of harmony contained more than you bargained for.

Petty arguments, full-blown disagreements, quarrels that lasted for hours or days.

All of a sudden, you realized that this perfect soul has some very real needs and wants—some of which differ drastically from your own. She has her own outlook, which can sometimes pull in a very different direction than your own.

Your “smooth” journey has a number of bumps.

And on top of these complexities, life threw you even greater challenges. You experienced a crisis—to your health, to your emotional state, or to your financial wellbeing.

An obtacle in your way. A restriction.

These are the journeys of the children of Israel going out of the land of Mitzrayim (Egypt). (Numbers 33:1)

Mitzrayim, the Hebrew word for Egypt, means “borders, constrictions.” On the spiritual level, the journey from Egypt is a journey from the boundaries that limit us—an exodus from the narrow straits of habit, convention, and ego to the “good, broad land” of the infinite potential of our G‑dly soul. (Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi)

Now begins your real journey. Now begins the hard work.

Look beneath her abrasiveness to discover her sweet essence. See beyond her criticism to find her points of validation. See beyond her endless needs to uncover the beauty of her soul. Work on yourself to transcend your constricted, ego-based perspective.

Each crisis in your relationship is an opportunity for you to reach a higher level of closeness. Each setback is a chance to forge a deeper connection and to reveal the deeper bonds of your relationship. Each restriction is an opening to reveal how your relationship is not dependent on surface beauty or good times alone.

Even in the ugly moments of your life together—even in the stops, resting areas, and wrong turns of your life—you are there for one another.

Our national, cosmic journey.

You are part of a people who was enjoined “to be a light unto the nations”—to bring morality to mankind. You are G‑d’s partner in creation.

You begin your journey, prepared to make a difference and bring light to this world. You feel embraced by the warmth and comfort of your partner, ready to take His message to mankind. You are ready to tackle any challenge.

Then along comes history: persecutions, decimations, destructions. The partner who had started out faithfully at your side, holding your hand, leading the way, seems to have abandoned you.

You feel utterly alone, surrounded by an all-pervasive, frigid darkness.

The journey seems endless. Hardship, loneliness, and pain surround you. Your estrangement from your partner, the decline in your relationship, the shrouding of mutual love is unbearable.

You feel defeated, ready to despair. Your destination appears to be nowhere in sight.

All forty-two journeys—not just the first—were a “going forth out of the land of Egypt.” Each stage was a new exodus; even a single journey is a liberation from some personal Egypt.(Lubavitcher Rebbe)

You don’t see how your contribution is bringing mankind forward, because the end is too far ahead. But ultimately each step is valuable as its own “exodus,” taking you that much further.

It is the time of Jacob’s trouble; from it he will be saved(Jeremiah 30:7).

“From it he will be saved”—Salvation is not something that simply follows trouble, it is implicit in it.(The Baal Shem Tov)

Our national journey has been a long and twisting one. There were beautiful times, but even more numerous ugly times. The moments of constriction, the rest stops along the way, the bumps in our road had a purpose and were meant to propel us further. Ultimately, in the messianic era, these setbacks will be revealed as points of progress towards a greater closeness with our Creator.

Each of these knocks was somehow needed to deepen your relationship with your partner. And you have proven that the bond between our nation and G‑d is everlasting.