Parshat Masei: Journeylistic Instinct

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30 Jul 2008
Arts & Media

I once was a slave.


To other masters, certainly;

But mostly to myself,

And that was the tragedy.


I did not rise with the day.

I did not rise with anything:

(When one is constantly down

One does not easily get up).

And if I did set with the night,

I definitely did not set right.


I slaved in many forms and conforms:

Chains came in infinite verities, fences

In countless patterns. I was locked into

A certain mentality, jailed in a prison

Where I was the key – and barred from

My own self.


I am no longer ashamed –


I once was a slave.


These are the journeys of

The Children of Israel

Who left the land of Egypt


I have long since left slavery behind me;

From the land of con-strained breathing

To the land of broad horizons, I have

Journeyed long and hard: long not necessarily

In tape measures; hard not necessarily in surfaces.


Now I travel light –


Darkness has no place on these roads.


I travel light but also carry a lot of weight.


These are the journeys…


Not journey singular; journeys plural.


I once was a slave

And if I stop now I will become a slave again.


One journey from slavery makes me free only

Until that freedom becomes the norm, then its

Time to move on and become free again: that’s

The way freedom works – once it stops being


It stops being.


We are people in flux, people of flow ‘n’ ebb:

What may be freedom for a slave can be slavery

For a master, what may be new and exciting to a

Novice may be dull and arbitrary to an expert –

Growth never stops, lest it be known on the street

As Pause


No matter how much one accomplished yesterday,

‘Tis still a confine in the light of what one can do today.


A journey begins, a journey ends – only to begin again.

A book begins, a book ends – only to begin again.


A journey, a book begins:


G-d spoke to Moshe

In the Wilderness of Sinai


In the desert wilderness many journeys,

Through birth and childhood, adolescence

And adulthood, parenthood and mid-life

Crisis, graying hair and satisfaction, old-

Age and young spirit, we’ve journeyed

And journey on…


A journey, a book ends:


In the plains of Moab

At the Jordan, by Jericho


Finally to reach the river, the

Border of the Land of Promise

The Promised Land…


A journey, a book begins again


And again…


Be strong! Be strong! And may we be strengthened!


Chazak Chazak V’nitchazek

Mendel Jacobson is a writer, poet and journalist living in Brooklyn. His weekly poetry can be seen at

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.