Matos-Masei 5769 – Maps

“And these are the journeys of the Bnei Yisrael” (Devarim 3:1)

During the past two and a half weeks, my family and I drove to New Jersey and Boston. One of the most important items we brought along with us was maps, especially during our time in Boston. Although I lived in Boston for seven years and have a pretty good sense of direction, I still got myself lost five times while there. One of those times was an early Friday afternoon when we were driving home from the Children’s Museum. I made a wrong turn and suddenly was heading in the direction of New Hampshire. I got off at the next exit and tried to turn around but ended up on a different road. So my wife took out a map. I saw that we had just passed Pearl Street, so I told my wife to look in the Legend to see where Pearl Street was. She found it, but there was one problem: there were ten Pearl Streets on the map. Luckily, we did find our way back to our host’s house with more than enough time to prepare for Shabbos. While walking to shul that night, I thought about our trouble with the map and realized that maps are a metaphor for our life.

We are all in this world to reach a certain place and, to make it easier for us to reach our goal, G-d has given up a map. This map is the Torah. The Torah tells us which direction we need to go in so we can reach our destination. There is one problem though. Sometimes, we do not know where on the map we are (because there are ten Pearl Streets on the map!). In this case, our best option is to pull into a Service Station to ask for directions. In Judaism, our “service station” is our Rebbeim. They are the ones who tell us where on the map we are and which direction we need to go in. Our Rebbeim are our guides.

There’s more though. I recently saw a comic where a car was stuck on the top of a huge building and the wife says to the husband, “Admit it. We’re lost.” So many times, people do not want to ask for directions and feel they can figure out the problems on their own. Unfortunately, this is so true in Judaism also. For some reason, many people do not want to ask questions to their Rebbeim, even though, it will make their life much easier. People prefer to drive around in circles than to pull over for a few minutes, ask for directions, and then continue along the proper path on their journey. And it does not even cost anything to ask for directions (of course, people should pay their shul membership dues or make a donation to the Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund, if they can.)

When the Jews were in the desert, they had G-d as their map and Moshe giving guidance. Today, we have the Torah and our Rebbeim. Let’s take advantage of them so we do not travel in the wrong direction.

Good Shabbos!
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