In this week’s parshah, when describing the 42 locations that B’nei Yisrael camped, Moshe Rabbeinu states, “These are the journeys of the Children of Israel.” If the subject matter is a list of encampments, why are they titled journeys? Why is there a need for the Torah to emphasize the journeys?
Rabbi Yisrael Greenberg explains that by referring to every destination in the desert as a journey, the Torah teaches the secret of Jewish success: Keep moving. No matter the magnitude of your past accomplishments, pausing in the spiritual journey is not an option. One must be ready to continue marching forward to achieve bigger and better.
The Baal Shem Tov teaches that there are 42 journeys reflected in the personal life of every Jew for eternity. Why are they called journeys? Life is compared to climbing a tall, steep mountain. If one fails to continuously ascend, then inevitably it will result in them descending. One must always strive to grow spiritually.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe explained that even when we are traveling on a journey, like a family vacation, we must be as vigilant and unchanging in our religious observance as when we are at home. The Rebbe would also teach that Jewish success is achieved through constant movement. Every shiur should be followed by another, and every mitzvah observed will inevitably lead to more and more.