I Ate Four Cobs Of Corn

News on July 21st, 2017 No Comments

Shalom aleichem!

Don’t You Just Love Corn On The Cob?

During the summer, our family dinner often includes grilled corn on the cob. We all love it. Earlier this week after dinner, Shmuel (age 7) announced, “I ate four cobs of corn.”

That got us thinking: What is the plural form of “corn on the cob?” (Yes, we looked it up).

And that in turn got me thinking about a linguistic curiosity in this week’s Torah portion, Matos-Masei.

A bit of background: The Torah is chronicling the time period before the Jewish people entered the Land of Israel. After we arrived at our final stop before entry into the Holy Land, the Torah reviews the 42 stops of the journey.

“These are the journeys of the People of Israel who left Egypt… under the leadership of Moses and Aaron” (Numbers 33:1).

Why does the verse refer to the journeys (plural) of leaving Egypt?

Although there were 42 stations along the way from Egypt to Israel, only the journey from Raamses to Sukkos should be considered as leaving Egypt. It would seemingly have been more accurate to refer to the journey (singular) of leaving Egypt.

Everything in the Torah contains multiple layers of meaning. In the Holy Tongue, spelling are not arbitrary; the word Egypt (מצרים / mitzrayim) shares the same letters as מצרים / meitzarim, which means limitations. Each stage of growth that we experience in life entails leaving “Egypt,” and arriving in a state of freedom.

Yet that freedom is only relative to the previous stage.

With regard to my next stage of growth, my current state of freedom is just another “Egypt.” In other words, each journey of growth in my life is cause for celebration — for I have become free from my previous constraints — while at the same time, it is cause for reflection on how I can attain the higher level that I am now striving for.

Two points to take home:

1. Even if I have attained a lofty level of spiritual growth, I must still strive for something greater. There is a Chassidic adage that I should be like a person, not an angel. An angel has only one leg, and therefore is static; a person, having two legs, is dynamic and is always moving.

2. Even if I have fallen to a low place, I should never despair. All it takes is one step to immediately leave my “Egypt.”

Shabbat Shalom,

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