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Parshas Nasso - The Trip of a Lifetime             13 Sivan 5783

06/02/2023 03:42:07 PM


This week’s Dvar Torah is L’iluy Nishmas / in memory of HaRav Dovid Elimelech ben Shmuel HaKohein z”l

In Bereishis we read about Eliezer the servant of Avraham being guided by Hashem in getting to his destination in traveling not at fast pace but rather in the concept known as Kfitzas HaDerech. This term is understood as either the road was made shorter, or he someone jumped the road so to speak. Although I have never read or learned about this in the opposite form I did experience it this week.

This week, one of my most long-standing friend lost his father, Rabbi David Winter z”l. My friend,  Chaim and I are in touch almost weekly and I was acutely aware of his father’s health decline and his approach to Olam Habah - the next world. I was informed that medical care was slowing down and to expect the unexpected phone within a day or so. My gut reaction to may similar situations would be to want to go and be with my friend. Unfortunately living so far away historically has limited me and my family members to attend both happy and sad occasions with friends and family. My friend Chaim recently married off his third and last girl (only has girls). I had missed the first two weddings and I really intended to make the last one. Circumstances had it that I was to be iin Israel for my Mother’s Yahrzeit and really had no option to go to the wedding. It then hit me what Shlomo Hamelech wrote in Koheles, “that it is better to go to a house of mourning than to a house of rejoicing” like a wedding. It was too quick for me to attend the funeral and I reasoned that I would have more quality time with my friend at the Shiva house instead of going to the funeral where it would be too overwhelming to spend time together. At that moment I start the search for airline tickets and for reasons too long to discuss here I flew into Newark New Jersey instead of JFK in New York which was much closer as the Shiva was in Queens. The traffic in the New York New Jersey area is beyond painful. I knew there would be traffic and returning to the airport during the day would take a little longer. It is actually only about twenty-one miles from Queens to Newark airport and it took two hours and forty-five minutes, in contrast flying it took only five hours (less than double the amount of time) to travel three thousand miles from San Diego! When a righteous person travels Hashem can make a long distance go fast but if not righteous makes a short distance go extremely slow.

A perspective of traveling is how a person carries themselves. When we travel either by car, plane, horse and buggy, or the original way of travel the old plain walking way,  we are carrying our bodies from one place to another. Most often the ability to go faster sometimes depends on the load that we are carrying, as we can walk or run faster with out carrying baggage and stuff. At the end of Bamidbar and the beginning of Nasso we read of the Levite families doing their work and carrying the different parts of the Mishkan as they traveled through the desert.  Several commentators address the distinction between the work and the carrying by the Leviim.

In this week’s Parshas Nasso the Torah states in Bamidbar 4:24 "זאת עבודת משפחת הגרשני לעבוד ולמשא"  “The Gershonite family shall serve by maintaining and carrying as follows”. Chizkuni* explains the word to work or serve as the putting together the components of the Mishkan and erecting it when they camp came to rest, and to dismantle it as the people were about to move. This is confirmed by a passuk/verse earlier Bamidbar 1:51 "ובנסע המשכן יורידו אתו הלוים ובחנת המשכן יקימו אתו הלוים והזר הקרב יומת"  “When the Tabernacle is moved, the Levites shall take it down, and when it is to remain in one place, they shall set it up. Any non-Levite who participates shall die”. The Eben Ezer explains the word “to work” is putting up the Mishkan and making the showbread, slaughter and watch over. But it is the Sforno who connects the activities together by citing a different earlier verse Bamidbar 3:25 "ומשמרת בני גרשון באהל מועד המשכן והאהל..."  “The task of the descendants of Gershon involving the Communion Tent….” This speaking of the tasks when they were camped. Our verse here comes to relate that all the roles, tasks, involvement, and everything the Leviim did when the camp was “parked” and rested was also performed in the same detail when they traveled. The Levites had those same tasks of carrying it all when they traveled.

The concept of carrying and traveling is not limited to the physical items we shlep but in addition the Torah gives us a perspective to travel through our life. I am personally going through a process of leaving behind or ignoring some baggage that life accumulates along the way. When we hold on to ideas, pet peeves, philosophies that no longer serve us any good hold us back and slow us down from reaching a further greater destination in life. We only have a certain amount of time in this world, and we need to go as far as we can in the quickest way possible. We carry psychological baggage whether it is religious, work, family or world related that prevents us from accomplishing things in our life that we are capable of and will never come to realize by removing it.

We have a choice in life. We can decide to take a very short trip that will take a very long time to get to my destination and I may not even make it there. Or I can take a very long trip and get there quickly and have more time available to do even more.  We can all in a sense become Leviim and learn the lesson from Leviim to carry only the necessary things to serve Hashem. May each and everyone be Zocheh to merit work in their respective ways and with all the talents we are blessed with to serve the Creator on our journey.

*Chizkuni born in France, 1220-1260 is a commentary on the Torah of Rabbi Chizkiyah ben Manoach. Chizkuni, a compilation of insights culled from the Midrashim, as well as the writings of twenty other Rishonim, including Rashi, Rashbam and Ibn Ezra. However, Chizkuni does not name any of his sources (other than Rashi), to encourage objective study, as he felt that one should focus on the message rather than the messenger.

Mon, March 4 2024 24 Adar I 5784