Taking The Next Big Steps- 3 Practical Tips

chassidus parsha self help Jun 03, 2018

By Rabbi Amichai Cohen

Research has found that moving to new locations and making a new career choice are among the most stressful events in one's life. 

The stress of so many unknowns consumes our thoughts before the move, while the adjustment period takes a mental toll on us as we settle into our new chosen abode and career choice.

Here are some Torah tips for how to know when the right time to move is and how to mentally prepare.

In the Torah portion of B'halotcha, the Torah discusses the travels of the Jewish people in the desert.

The 12 tribes of the Israelites were divided into 4 camps, each camp consisting of 3 tribes. In the middle of the 4 camps was the Tabernacle, which stored the ark that housed the tablets -the Ten Commandments. 

During the 40-year sojourn in the desert, the Jewish people traveled 42 journeys. 

The Ba'al Shem Tov says that just as the Israelites traveled 42 journeys, so too each individual has 42 journeys in their lifetime. The journey begins at birth and ends when we reach our life mission. The Midrash compares coming out of Egypt as a "birth of a nation" and our first journey, so too life begins with birth.

The final destination "the Plains of Jericho", represents the final destination. Jericho means smell in Hebrew, our most spiritual faculty. 

The Ba'al Shem Tov in fact says that we have in fact 42 journeys each day. 

The Verses say: "Whether it was for two days, a month, or a year that the cloud lingered, hovering over the Tabernacle, the Israelites would encamp and not travel; and when it departed from over the Tabernacle and spread itself over the camp of the tribe of Judah, they traveled". 

After each encampment, the Israelites would pack up the Tabernacle and move on to the next stop, dictated by God. Upon arrival, they would set up the Tabernacle anew, keeping God's mandate to maintain the Tabernacle functioning. They never knew how long they would stay in a given place—it could have been a day, it could have been a year. This made no difference to them. They kept the Tabernacle working regardless.

This teaches us an important lesson. We naturally tend to consider significant times in our lives, the periods of our lives that occur in relatively permanent geographic and emotional settings. If we will be somewhere for a year, we make sure to utilize that time and place to its fullest potential. But when we find ourselves in temporary situations, we often write them off as unimportant and fail to utilize them fully.

The lesson from the Israelites in the desert is twofold: first, the journeys we go through in life—both geographical and emotional—are dictated by God. Of course, we can and should make our plans based on our own perception of our lives' goals.

At the same time, we must realize that God sees the big picture and knows when it is in our best interest to stay or move on to the next station in life—and He arranges things accordingly. Second, we should treat the smallest situation with the same care as the greatest one. Since God is beyond time and place, when we connect with Him, with His essence, even for one moment, that moment lasts for all of the time.

Whether a personal journey lasts a decade or a day, we can make it into a Sanctuary, imbued with the eternal permanence of the Divine presence.


3 Signs

The Torah describes that the travel of the Tabernacle and the Jewish people in the desert consisted of 3 signs.

The famous commentator Rashi says:  ״And to announce the departure of the camps״: At the time the camps are due to depart, the trumpets were blown as a signal. It follows that they traveled at the behest of three- at God’s bidding, by the word of Moses, and by the call of the trumpets.

1. The cloud

2. The instruction of Moses    

3. The blowing of the trumpets

On a personal level, these signs mean: 

1. A calling- inspiration

2. Mentorship- listening to advice  

3. Mental readiness- getting fired up


The Cloud

Rashi says: "As soon as the Israelites encamped, the pillar of cloud would mushroom upward and spread itself over the tribe of Judah like a canopy".

Very often when it is time to move we receive an inspirational feeling or a calling that is intangible. That feeling sets us on a motion to go to take the next steps. 

This feeling can be compared to a cloud, which is intangible yet powerfully felt at the same time.

The first step is to recognize that cloud, the Divine inspiration which is summoning us to take the next step.



The next step after having the inspiration is bouncing what you are feeling off Moses. Moses is the mentor whom you have chosen to call upon to advise you in your life questions. 

The Mishnah in Ethics of our fathers says: "Make for yourself a Rabbi - mentor, and remove yourself from doubt". The Lubavitcher Rebbe would stress the importance of appointing a "mashpia" a spiritual mentor to as ask for advice.

It is important to note that although one can have various mentors in various fields, it can be confusing and self-defeating when one picks and chooses advice from different mentors. It is super important to stick to a mentor.


The Trumpets

The verse says: "When you blow a teruah [a series of short blasts], the camps which are encamped to the east shall travel".

The word teruah comes from the root word Reut, which means companionship. It also means intense love, that is why this word is one of the 10 forms of love expressed in the 7 blessings that a bride and groom receive during their wedding celebration.

Practically, blasting the trumpets means mentally psyching ourselves up and acting with confidence. Just as athletes psyche themselves up and get excited before a game, so too do we need to embrace the new move.

The word trumpet in Hebrew is חצוצרות- "half shapes". The Maggid of Mezritch says that we are all halves, and G-d is our partner who completes us and comes along on all of our journeys.

By having trust that it is going to be good and by holding on to the arc and the Tablets within our personal Tabernacle, we are sure to make the next move a positive one.