Matot-Massei: The Journeys Out of Egypt



Egyptian turmoil is in the news again – as it was 3325 years ago, when the Jews left Egypt.

It’s quite intriguing that as we conclude the fourth book of the Torah enumerating the 42 journeys the Jews took as they left Egypt, we hear this week’s news about the latest coup in tumultuous Egypt. It therefore seems appropriate to explore the mystery of our life’s journeys, both personal and collective, which can also shed light on current events.

Is life made up of fragments or is it a cohesive journey leading to a defined destination? How about history: Are we linked to past generations, or are we alone?As we make our summer travel plans, what deeper forces are at work leading us from one place to the next? Why are we drawn to journey to certain places in the world? When we arrive at a certain spot why do we sometimes have the uncanny feeling that this place was awaiting for us to arrive?

This week’s Torah reading is all about journeys. Indeed, around 70% of the entire Torah is devoted to the 42 journeys of the Jewish people throughout the wilderness! Beginning with the Egyptian exodus (in the third chapter of the Book of Exodus), the remaining 39 – out of 53 – Torah chapters concern themselves with, take place in, or are a part of the 42 journeys that the Israelites made.

Clearly, all this traveling plays a central role in Torah and teaches us that journeys are a central theme in our personal lives as well.

Indeed, the 42 journeys recounted in the Torah mirror 42 journeys or phases that each person experiences throughout life as this sermon explains, in the process revealing the secret behind our conscious and unconscious travels.


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