From the Rabbi’s Study
by Rabbi Ari Enkin

This week’s Torah portion, “Maasei”, is the concluding section of the Book of “Bamidmar” (Numbers). It is an especially exciting portion for lovers of Israel. And those who treasure their journeys to the Holy Land. This week’s Torah portion delineates the forty-two different stations, stops, and encampments that the Jewish people made during the forty years of wandering in the desert on their way to the Promised Land. With each station, they were one step closer!

The portion is also particularly meaningful for “Olim”, recent immigrants to Israel, which actually includes most of the United with Israel staff! Indeed, having lived in many cities, including having served as a congregational and community rabbi in three different cities, I too had many “stations” and “encampments” before fulfilling the ultimate dream – living in the Land of Israel.

Open your Bible and take a look at the many different places the Jewish people passed through! Chocolate-milk lovers will be excited to see that “Yotvata” is one of the places the Jewish people encamped on the way to the Promised Land. Today, in Israel, the Kibbutz Yotvata in the Deep South near Eilat is the number one producer of award winning chocolate milk and other dairy products for which the kibbutz is famous! And here’s a little secret, the station “Etzion Gaver” is actually the Biblical name for the modern-day city of Eilat! That’s right – Moses was eating falafel and humus in Eilat long before any of us!

The forty two stations of the Jewish people also have deeper meaning for us today than mere geographical locations. Where have you been in life? Where have you been in the world? How many personal “stations” and “encampments” have you been through? Do “stations” such as “God”, “Family”, “Justice”, “Democracy”, “Honesty”, “Israel”, and “Freedom” make your list?

This week’s Torah portion is an opportunity for reflection of evaluation as to where we’ve come from and to where we’re heading in life. I hope your last station, like mine, both materially and spiritually, is the Promised Land!

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