From Lauren Henderson's (Summer '09, Year '10) blog:
The d’var torah (more or less) that I gave at Sunday night’s Encounter Leadership Seminar:
When I first got to Israel in the fall and started to get acquainted with the current stagnant political situation (for both domestic and foreign issues), I started to actually hope that things would get really, really bad this year. I got attached to this morbid fantasy that the Haredim would do something so horrible and offensive that the rest of Israel would have no choice but to rise up together against them and shift the power dynamic, or that (God forbid) there would be another intifada, and the brief period of violence would somehow lead to renewed peace negotiations. I knew that the situation here would probably have to get worse before it got better, but I was impatient for a quick fix. I wanted things to be resolved once and for all, and it would have been really convenient for it to happen all in the course of one academic year – right?
The desire for shortcuts and quick fixes shows up in the much-commented upon first verse of Parshat Beshalach, Exodus 13:17:
ויהי בשלח פרעה את העם ולא נחם אלהים דרך ארץ פלישתים, כי קרוב הוא, כי אמר אלהים “פן ינחם העם בראתם מלחמה ושבו מצרימה…”
And when Pharaoh was sending the people out, God didn’t lead the people by way of the Philistines, because it was close, since God said, “Lest the people be led (astray) when they see war and return toward Egypt….”
God intentionally doesn’t lead the people by the most direct path out of Egypt, because it’s the shortcut. Instead, God chooses the long, windy route through the desert. The long route isn’t safer or easier – the Israelites still encounter war, famine, and plenty of other challenges along the way – but at least there isn’t the fear that they might actually be able to return to Egypt if things get especially bad. Continue reading