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Journey Through Life

Matot-Masay (Numbers 30-36 )

by Nesanel Yoel Safran

It's exciting to be on a journey. We get to see new places and meet interesting people. And every step of the way we know we're getting closer to our destination.

The Torah tells us about the 40-year journey of the Jewish people, which began after they were freed from slavery in Egypt, and which ended when they finally reached the Land of Israel.

Some places they stayed longer and some places shorter, but each stop was necessary to get them where they had to go.

We may not realize it, but our whole life is one big journey. The families we have, the places we live, and the people we encounter are not by chance. They are all part of God's carefully arranged plan to help us grow spiritually into who we have the potential to become. All that happens to us helps us to get there, even if we don't see it.


In our story we meet a girl who appreciates the journey of life.


My friend Amy has a funny way of looking at things.

I saw her the other day in school. Since it was a new term we started talking about the classes we were taking. I told her that I was very excited about studying French this year. She told me that she had also signed up for French but all the classes were full, and so she was assigned to the Russian class instead.

"Russian!" I said. "You must really be disappointed!"

Amy just smiled. "I guess I'm going to need it for something someday. Otherwise I wouldn't have been placed there."

Well, if it were me, I think I would have locked myself in my room for three days.

I didn't bump into Amy again until it was almost winter break. Of course we spoke about where we would be going for vacation. She told me that she planned all year to take this amazing trip down to Disney World but, at the last minute, her parents had changed their minds and decided to take everyone on a historical trip to Europe instead. She and her family were going to get passports that afternoon.

"Uggh, how boring," I thought. But believe it or not, Amy just took it all in stride. "It was meant to be, I guess. This is just another stop on my journey through life. Maybe someday I'll find out why," she said calmly.

That's sure not the way I would have reacted!

But you haven't heard anything yet. Just last week I invited all the kids over for a sleepover birthday party at my house. I knew Amy would be excited because she loves these kind of things, but guess what? She said she couldn't come because they were having guests from out of town. Some lady was coming that was her Mom's second cousin. Amy hadn't even met her before, but she had to stay home.

Now I was sure Amy would be mad. But I almost fell over when she just cheerfully said, "I guess it's just part of my life's plan that I meet her instead of going to a party."

I told you that she had funny way of looking at things.

But you wouldn't believe what happened. I got a call yesterday that blew my mind.

It was Amy. At first I didn't even recognize her voice because she was so excited.

It turns out that the lady cousin of her Mom's is a famous teacher who makes educational movies and who is about to fly to Moscow to make a film about Russian kids. She invited Amy to come with her for two weeks to assist her and be in the film. They would stay at the best 5-star hotels and be interviewed on Russian TV. Since it is educational, Amy would even be allowed to miss school and get school credit for it.

Sounds great right? But there's more.

The filmmaker said she could only take someone along who could speak at least a little Russian and had a ready passport since they had to leave right away. "Just think," Amy said to me, "If I hadn't 'gotten stuck' taking Russian, if I hadn't gone to Europe and needed a passport, and if I hadn't missed out on your party to meet this lady, I would never have been able to go on this dream trip!"

Well, I was speechless.

It now seems to me that Amy's way of looking at things really isn't so funny after all. In fact, maybe that's how I'm going to start looking at things from now on.


Ages 3-5

Q. How would you feel if your plans got changed at the last minute?
A. At first I might feel disappointed or upset, but then I would remember that God is helping me plan my life and this change is for the best.

Q. How did Amy's friend feel after she saw how everything worked out for Amy?
A. She realized that sometimes things that don't seem good really can be, and she decided to start to look at her own life that way.

Ages 6-9

Q. Was Amy being unrealistic when she kept saying that everything that happened to her was part of a plan?
A. Although it could look that way, actually Amy was being very realistic. Because the truth is that we are on a life journey, a guided tour from God to help us grow. It's easy to miss that point and only look at things on the surface, but Amy was able to see the deeper truth.

Q. How can seeing whatever happens to us as 'stops along life's journey' help us to enjoy life more?
A. When people make the mistake of thinking that their life is just a random set of events without a deeper meaning, they feel confused and frustrated if things don't seem to go their way. How much more enjoyable their life would be if they chose to realize that everyone they meet and everything that happens to them is really a meaningful part of a marvelous journey planned for them by God.

Q. Can you think of a time when you felt God was sending you a message?

Ages 10 and Up

Q. The sages teach us that each individual should adopt the outlook that "the entire world was created for me." How can we understand this? How would having such an outlook affect our view of life?
A. Each of us is unique and has a special and important mission in life. For this reason, God has placed each of us in a life situation that will encourage and challenge us to go forward and accomplish what we are in the world to do. In effect, each one of us stars in our own life's story with the rest of the world playing a supporting role. Realizing this can help us develop an optimistic viewpoint that everything and everyone we encounter, even if unpleasant or unexpected, is "heaven sent" to help us grow.

Q. In our story, Amy got to see how three seemingly unfortunate events were in fact fortunate. But sometimes it just doesn't turn out that way. Can we still say that what happened was part of our life plan and for the best?
A. Indeed, there is no guarantee that we will come to see or understand how some baffling and seemingly unfortunate life occurrences are for the best. In times like these we must try to develop our faith in God and trust that He truly cares about us and is guiding us. We have faith that the good, although hidden, is there and will ultimately reveal itself to be good, if not in this world then in the next.

Q. Can you think of a time when you felt God was sending you a message?


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