Voices of WRJ: Parashat Masei
“Birth is a beginning and death a destination; But life is a journey, a sacred pilgrimage.” So goes the poem written by Alvin Fine. If it sounds familiar, that’s because it is part of our Yizkor liturgy.
This week’s parashah is called “Masei” which means “journeys.” This is of course associated with the segments of the journey of the Israelites out of Egypt to the Promised Land.
The parashah, however, tells us not so much of the “journeying” but rather of the stops they made along the way–42 in all. Egypt was called “Mitzrayim” by the Israelites, meaning “a narrow place, or a place of confinement.” Thinking in personal terms, these steps or stages can be said to mirror our own lives as we journey on our own personal “exodus from Egypt” toward our destination, which would be the spiritual counterpart of the Land of Israel.
Throughout the journey from slavery to the Promised Land, whenever leadership was needed, God called on individuals to step forward. Moses, Aaron, Miriam, Caleb, Joshua, all brought their unique gifts to help lead the Jewish people.
As each of us takes a moment to reflect on own journey, time after time it may be our affiliation with sisterhood that led us forward along our path. Sisters supporting, encouraging, and nurturing us, pushing each of us to develop our own leadership skills and to grow spiritually. Did God call us, personally, to take leadership roles? No, not directly. However, most often it was one of God’s “angels” who called, urging us to step up to leadership, whether it was for a program, project, or as an officer of sisterhood–we heard the call, and answered, “hineini, here I am.”
Israel, youth, and social action are important to us as reform Jews. Each of us has a unique set of skills and interests. Each of us must answer the call to serve our community, to share our gifts, and encourage others to join us. After all, it is a mitzvah, a commandment to do a good deed.
Women of Reform Judaism provides many opportunities for committed, passionate women to step forward, as Miriam did, and to lead. We are all on our own personal journeys. When the call for YOU to step forward comes, say, “Yes.” Say yes because it will benefit Reform Judaism, it will help your community, and your congregation. Most of all, however, it will help YOU, as you go on YOUR journey.
“Birth is a beginning and death a destination; But life is a journey.”