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Samuel Castle - Dvar Torah

My Torah portion is about the journey of the Jews led by Moses out of Egypt through the desert to the promised land. Along the way they were challenged with doubt, disbelief and fears, questioning Moses as well as G-d about their decisions.

Journeys, we would like to think, are planned, wonderful and well executed holidays in exotic or relaxing destinations. But this is not always the case. Some journeys are not made easily.

For example, my great grandparents journey to South Africa from Germany just before World War 2 was not an easy journey or transition. My great great grandfather had told them that it would only be a temporary move till things settled down.

Not in their worst nightmares could they have foreseen that they would never see their large loving families ever again. They left with a 2 year old son and not much more. Yet their painful journey led them to new beginnings; new friends, a new home and the birth of my granny, named after a niece who was a victim of the Holocaust. They endured many hardships and setbacks, yet through their courage and resilience they developed a zest for life and had a home filled with love and laughter.

Journeys are not necessarily sad nor happy. They are often lessons of life that are necessary for growth and transformation and for an individual to evolve.

This time of the year is a time of mourning for the Jewish people - a stark reminder of the adversities that the Jewish people have faced throughout the ages. When one reads the Torah it reminds us that life is filled with challenges but we need to have strength and perseverance to overcome the obstacles that we are faced with.

My barmitzvah is part of my journey so far. My journey began at birth and each day, each person and every event that has touched my life, has moulded me into the 13 year old I am today. I pray that I will always remember the journeys of my forefathers, so that they were not in vain and that I can follow their example of rising to a challenge and trusting in G-d.

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