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Parshas Chayei Soroh - Traveling is about the Purpose not the Destination

11/12/2020 02:10:25 PM


"Déjà Vu" is a borrowed French expression meaning ‘already seen’.  When a déjà vu  event occurs, our memory is sparked, making us feel as though we’re revisiting a place we have already been to, a person we have already seen, or an act we have already done. Recently, I have come to recognize another kind yet related experience, and I wonder if it only happens to me or to everyone.  

I have been living in San Diego, California for almost twenty-five years. I have driven thousands of miles on most of the freeways but have visited only a handful of the one hundred twenty-seven neighborhoods. As you drive on the massive California highway system (in my opinion of one San Diego’s strong points), one takes notice of the major intersections of freeways, sometimes three different roads each going north and south or east and west. A few years ago, visitors from Israel were awestruck by the gigantic merge of highways 8, 805 and 15. Even though I have driven past these interchanges hundreds of times, I have not necessarily been on all of them. Recently I took a road that put me on  a ramp which connected to a section of highway that I had never driven on before. As I was driving, the area around me began to come into focus and I realized that I was driving on the road that I have passed by or seen hundreds of times, yet had never driven on until this very day.  A second but similar road story took place while driving southbound on a road, never realizing that the northbound road was on the other side but could not be seen - until one time when it was revealed. For some reason I feel I made a discovery that no one else knew about. Little did I realize that I, too, drive on roads daily which others do not tend to use yet may one day find themselves driving on.  The third and last driving observation occurred when driving on a street I have never previously driven on before and I was not exactly sure where I was going. Suddenly, I approached an intersection and… golly gee whiz wow! I now knew exactly where I was! I have driven on this major road and have seen the street that I just approached but never realized the street would come out where it did.

These three examples are similar to a maze. When you are in a maze you cannot see the connecting points and turns, but from an aerial view one can see it all very clearly. In truth, this fact highlights  some of the benefits we receive from satellites. There is a certain thrill I experience when I make these links, and I cannot wait until the next one just hits me in the windshield. This all may seem to be very amusing and mundane, but roads and travel are a part of daily life, certainly here in Southern California. In truth, travel, roads, and directions are the keys to getting from point A to point B in the most safe, efficient, and timely manner. These ideas grow and blossom daily, and they are found in the Torah too.

In this week’s Parshas Chayei Soroh, the Torah conveys the episode of Avraham sending his trusted servant Eliezer to find a wife for his son, Yitzchok. Not only does the Torah divulge the way Eliezer was to know which girl would be the right one for Yitzchok, it narrates the entire segment over again to Rivka’s family before accepting anything from them. The Torah states in Bereishis 24:27 "ויאמר ברוך ה' אלקי אדני אברהם אשר לא עזב חסדו ואמתו מעם אדני, אנכי בדרך     נחני ה' בית אחי אדני" “He [Eliezer] said, ‘Blessed be God, Lord of my master Avraham, who has not withdrawn the kindness and truth that He grants to my master. Here I am, still on the road, and God has led me to the house of my master’s close relatives”. * Rav Eliezer Ashkenazi, in his sefer Maasei Hashem, explains this verse with another verse from Tehilim 119:1 "אשרי תמימי דרך"  ~ “Fortunate are those whose way is perfect, who walk with the Torah of Hashem”. This teaches us that those who are perfect while they are on the road, all the way and up until they reach their destination, will reach their destination as long as they are walking in the path of the Torah. The entire journey’s purpose is to fulfill the will of Hashem. So too here - Eliezer’s trip was for the sake of heaven. Therefore, while he was still on the road, Hashem led him to the house of his master’s relatives. The journey itself had the same feeling, emotion, and drive - just as it would be at the moment, he reached his destination. Therefore, Eliezer merited the blessing of Kfitzas HaDerech, literally jumping the road; the road and the time were shortened to get to his destination. He merited this because his entire essence was focused on the task at hand, and that concentration was maintained throughout the entire trip.

For Eliezer  there may have been many roads, different avenues, and values that could have taken him off the beaten path. Life brings many different roads and paths that we see but do not know from where they came or from where they lead. Sometimes we are tempted to try out the new road not knowing if and when we will ultimately arrive at our destination. If we are going someplace and we have the sincerity of working towards doing this L’Shem Shamayim, Hashem will guide us through and make it the correct way. In this vein we should recite Tefilas HaDerech, the wayfarer’s prayer, not only when going on a trip out of the city but everyday upon waking up, preparing to take the first few steps of the day. If we concentrate and make sure all of our intentions are for the sake of Hashem, then He will arrange it that we will be successful in all our ways, - those we’ve traveled before and those yet to be traveled.     

Ah Gutten Shabbos

Rabbi Avraham Bogopulsky


*Rav Eliezer ben Elijah Ashkenazi (1512–December 13, 1585) was a Talmudist, rabbi, physician, and many-sided scholar. He received his Talmudic education under Joseph Taitazak in Salonica. Ashkenazi first became rabbi in Egypt in 1538–60, probably at Fostat, where, due to his learning and wealth, he became widely known. Compelled by circumstances—doubtless of a political nature—to leave Egypt, he went to Cyprus, remaining there for two years as rabbi at Famagusta. In 1561, Rav Ashkenazi took up residence in Prague. Here—either because he was a rabbi, or because he was a leading authority—his was the first signature appended to the constitution of the burial society of the congregation. After leaving Bohemia and proceeding eastward as far as the Crimea, Rav Ashkenazi returned to Italy, not before 1570. While rabbi of Cremona in 1576 Rav Ashkenazi  published Yosef Lekah (Increases Learning; compare Proverbs 1:5), dedicated to Joseph Nasi, Duke of Naxos.Yosef Lekah  was reprinted several times.  Four years later Rav Ashkenazi returned to Eastern Europe, as rabbi of Posen. In 1584 he left that city to take up his abode in Cracow, where he died on December 13, 1585.

Tue, October 19 2021 13 Cheshvan 5782