Our view of the Galile

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Answer to Life the Universe and Everything-Matos/Masei 2013 5773

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
July 6h 2013 -Volume 3, Issue 36–28th of Tamuz 5773
Parshat Matos Masei

The Answer to Life the Universe and Everything

"How many roads must a man walk down before they call him a man?" Thus croons that nice Jewish boy Robert Allen Zimmerman (otherwise known as Bob Dylan) in his famous song. The answer, my friends, to that question though is not blowing in the wind. In fact the answer to "Life, The Universe and Everything" as readers of Douglas Adams famous work "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" know, is the number "42". Yup. That's it 42.

Doug was asked many times during his career why he chose the number 42. Many theories were proposed, but he rejected them all. On November 3, 1993, he gave an answer on alt.fan.douglas-adams

"The answer to this is very simple. It was a joke. It had to be a completely ordinary number, a number not just divisible by two but also six and seven, and I chose that one. I sat at my desk, stared into the garden and thought '42 will do. It's the sort of number that you could, without any fear, introduce to your parents." I typed it out. End of story."

Doug, although he got it right, obviously never read the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov the founder of the Chasidic movement. Neither it seems had Bob.

This weeks Torah portion the last of the book of Bamidbar (Numbers) concludes the Book that shares with us the journeys of our ancestors through the wilderness for forty years before arriving on the banks of the Jordan River .

"These are the Journeys of the Bnai Yisrael, the verse tells us, who left Egypt according to their legions under the hand of Moshe and Aharon. Moshe wrote their goings forth according to their journeys at the bidding of Hashem and these are their journeys according to their goings forth….

The Torah then lists a series of "and they traveled from here and they camped here's" for a good portion of the Parsha." At first glance this seems like a rather boring Portion of the Torah unless you have a particular affinity for reading MapQuest directions. Yet as we know there is nothing in the Torah that is not meant to speak to us today and have a message that we can learn from. That's where the Baal Shem Tov comes in.

"42" says the Baal Shem Tov. That's the number of places the Torah tells us the children of Israel traveled. But the Torah utilizes a word that insinuates not just a historic recounting but also a present tense one. "These are the Journeys"- Not were the journeys. Each person, suggests the Baal Shem Tov, will undergo 42 different journeys in their life; 42 different paths and challenges that he will have to transverse. The places that are listed in the Torah all have names that hint to the various personal challenges our ancestors underwent and that we embark upon from the moment we leave the constraints (in Hebrew interestingly enough the word for constraint is the same word as Egypt Mitzrayim) of the womb until the moment we end our journey here on this Earth. The journey log sounds a little more interesting now, doesn't it? Pull out a Torah and get to work figgering it out or just come to the TLC this Shabbat.

The Slonimer Rebbe of blessed memory carries that idea a little further. He suggests that in each place they camped there were two primary challenges. "and they traveled and they camped" . There is something positive that we are meant to establish and gain from and something negative that we are meant to be challenged to leave behind and remove ourselves from. "Sur Mei'Ra- V'asei Tov – Remove yourself from Evil and do Good" in the words of King David ( a singer, unlike Bob, who was certainly not blowing in the wind). Life he suggests is not about necessarily getting someplace. It is about going someplace. And the only way we can move forward in our journey in life is if we have our sights set on a life that seeks to undertake the journey of accomplishment, meaning and personal growth.

All too often I believe we lose sight of this perspective. We want and expect to cruise down that highway of life on cruise control or autopilot. We set our sights on what will I be when I "grow up" and we don't focus on what I am meant to accomplish and take from the journey. One of the principles of Judaism is that ultimately the destination and what we were meant to be is all guided by the "bidding of Hashem". Our role and free will is only what we will make and take out of the journey that is set before us. There will be times we are flying high and times when we are low. Places that might be fearful and places that are glorious mountains of tranquility. Oh, the places you will go. So stop and enjoy the journey of life contemplate what you are meant to take from those 42 different experiences. It sure beats hitchhiking and blowing in the wind.

Have a Shabbos filled with blessing and peace,

Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz  


 (answer below)

What is an "optional tour"?

(a) A tour offered to tourists in their free time

(b) A regular tour the leaves on set days                                                        

(c) A tour determined by the hotel in advance

(d) A tour that offers at least 5 different options




 "A friend is family that you choose”

 heard from my friend Menachem at Kfar Kedem


As we approach 8 years since the tragic 10th of av when jews expelled their brothers and sisters from their home sin gush katif it behooves us to mourn once again what this galus/exile even here in eretz yisrael has left us with…

May Hashem return us to our home and bring the final redemption soon.










Nachal Kibbutzim-The author of the work Kaftor Va Perach Rav Ishtar Ha'Parchi describes the Beit Shan Valley as the "mouth to Paradise" This beautiful part of the country in the foothills of historic mt Gilboa below the Jezre'el valley is truly lush with hills, trees, spring and rivers. Nachal kibbutzim right behind Sachna/Gan Ha'Shlosha and Gan Guru is one on the nicest hikes one can take on a hot day in the summer. The hike through the river which is waist to shoulder high most of the way is full of water all year. The hike will lead you to same wonderful tube/slides that you can slide through, little fish that will be happy to nibble at your dry feet like a professional spa and through a pool from the british mandate period. One can also visit Tel Amal/Nir Dovid which is the historic wall and stockade settlement that was built in 1936 the first of many of such settlements made by the early Zionists in one day literally in order to create facts on the ground for the upcoming Partition plan. Best of all is that this Nachal is free and open  from dawn until dark unlike many of the national parks.
 Answer is A- This was pretty much a another give-away question. And perhaps it was harder in Hebrew than English –siyur bechira. But yes there is certain terminology for the many types of tours that are offered a fixed tour being answer b and of course there are medical tours, handicapped tours, religious tours and the like as well.

1 comment:

  1. Neat! Both the 42 connection and that a Rabbi knows about THGTTU.

    But do keep in mind that 42 is an incorrect answer to the Universal question :)