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Life giving waters

GYE Corp. Tuesday, 08 May 2012

This week's Parsha is called Masei - meaning "Travels" and the Torah outlines the journeys of the Jewish people through the wilderness. Although these journeys happened on a national level, they also occur on an individual level throughout each of our lives. It is the will of G-d that each of us make a journey throughout our life time that takes us from the bondage of Egypt to the promised land.

In the struggle for sexual purity in our day and age, this journey can be felt in a very clear-cut way. People find themselves caught up in the "Egypt" of desire and watch themselves become slaves to the evil inclination. They become aware that it is falsehood and destroying their lives, but they find they can't break free. Finally, like the Jewish people in Egypt, they "hit bottom" and cry out to G-d. And G-d hears these prayers that come from the depths of the heart, and he helps those people break free of the bondage of Egypt against all odds. But even then, the journey through the desert is not always an easy one.

After leaving Egypt [read; stopping the destructive behaviors], the first place that one must arrive is "Sukkot", as we see in the Parsha. Sukkot refers to the clouds of glory which surrounded the Jewish people and provided them with a total protection and dependency on G-d. Sukkot, in the journey through the desert, symbolizes giving ones self over to the care of G-d, which is the first step in recovering from the bondage of desire and addiction. At a later stage, the Parsha tells how there was no water for the people to drink. This place was known as "Mara" - meaning "Bitter". Often, after breaking free from life-long habits and desires, one goes through a stage of "withdrawal" where he may feel "dried out". And G-d showed Moses a branch and he placed it in the water and the water became sweetened. The Aitz or branch, refers to the Tree of Life which represents "G-d and his Torah". As one progresses on his journey to sexual purity, he is able to connect with G-d and the Torah in ways he was never able to before. It is this spiritual connection, this branch from the "Tree of Life", that sweetens the desert waters and replaces the lust and self-gratification that he had become so accustomed to, with the truly life giving waters of spirituality, sobriety, joy and a true freedom.