Imagine you and your patrol buddies sitting around your last campfire after a week of backpacking. You talk about the places you saw, and the things that happened there. How Jeremy fell into the creek when he was filling his canteen with water. The scurry to find shelter in the meadow when a lightning storm struck. The beautiful view you had from the top of the mountain. And now, after your long trail and many adventures, you are ready to go home.
That’s what happens in the second of this week’s double parashot, Mattos and Masei. In Masei (journeys) God reminds us of the 42 encampments the Children of Israel had during the years in the Wilderness (Midbar). From place to place, we retrace our ancestors’ route from Egypt to Israel.
In some places, bad things happened: Kivrot Hattavah (the “graves of craving”), where people complained about the lack of meat, and God sent great flocks of birds on which those who complained gorged themselves and died. Rismah where the Meraglim (spies) were sent from, and brought back an evil report (except for Caleb and Joshua) which caused God to decree that the Israelites would wander in the Midbar until the adult generation died, so it would not enter the Land.
In many places good things came to the Israelites: At Marah, God performed a miracle by causing the bitter water to turn sweet, and taught them about Shabbat. (Rashi to Exodus 15:25) After learning Torah, the people traveled to Elim where they were rewarded with 12 springs of water and 70 date trees.
We learn things by having experiences (like to balance yourself while drawing water from a creek or to Be Prepared to find shelter when the skies look dark). We learn even more when we review our experiences and talk about what we did, what we did well, and how we could have improved the things that did not go well.
This week, the 2021 National Scout Jamboree was canceled, to make sure we do not put Scouts and leaders at risk because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Several Jewish Scout leaders began chatting on the J-Scouts listserve about their many jamboree experiences, and the fun they had. In addition to helping everyone feel better about some disappointing news, the stories reminded us all of the fun and excitement of big Scout events. The discussion encouraged us to plan for such events when we can all get together in person for Scouting activities. We started thinking about fun things to do.
Talk to your buddies or your parents about some recent campouts, hikes, vacations or other experiences and what you learned. See if, by talking about it with others, you learn some new things and plan for great things to come.