D’var Torah Matot Masei

By Ayala Wasser - 13 July 2020

After a disappointing end to my 8th grade basketball season, I was determined to improve. The summer before entering high school, I set a goal to shoot at least 90% from the free-throw line and shoot at least 100 baskets a day. As athletes, we understand the importance of setting goals and putting in the work to achieve those goals. If we aren’t willing to put in the time, energy, or effort, we cannot expect to improve our game or refine our fundamentals.

During this week’s parish, the Torah recounts the journeys of the Jews in the desert, the 42 journeys which took them from Egypt to the banks of the Jordan. Why does the Torah choose to recall each specific Journey that the Jewish people took to reach the Promised Land? Does it truly matter that the Israelites “journeyed from Dophkah and camped in Alush” or that “they journeyed from Kivroth hataavah and camped in Hazeroth?“

By including each journey that the Israelite’s took, the Torah teaches us an invaluable lesson; that the small victories and the small steps are equally as important as a final product, and allow you to reach that final product. Without the small victories, the large victory wouldn’t be possible.

That summer before high school, I didn’t jump to perfecting my three-point shot, or start practicing my dunks! I chose something that felt achievable yet needed work and needed attention. Throughout our major sports practices, we hear coaches say over and over that returning to and perfecting the fundamentals has been integral to their success as athletes.

This week, when reading Torah, we are reminded that with every victory, there is another challenge that lies ahead, it’s like a climb up a mountain. We feel good about finally reaching the top, but then we remember that the Torah recounts multiple ‘journeys.’ Once we reach a peak, we realize that even though we are now in a place that at one time seemed very high or far fetched, there are new, even higher peaks that we can reach. Through practice, small steps, and determination, that next peak won’t seem so far away!

Shabbat Shalom,

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