"Fly hatchling, cut through the sky, Fly to wherever you please, Just don't forget that there's an eagle in the sky, Live for yourself, live for yourself." -- Arik Einstein, Uf Gozal Transitions are always hard. One of the hardest is when children leave home and must learn to be independent. We usually think of this from the perspective of the parents. Indeed, parents often mourn this moment. However, it isn't more straightforward for the kids, even if they're usually the initiators of the process. This week we learn about the process of the Jews learning to look after themselves. Up to now, they have wandered through the desert and been supported. They didn't need to worry about their food. G-d provided it miraculously in the form of manna. They didn't have to worry about water. A magical well followed them in their wanderings in Miriam's merit. However, things begin to change this week, in the fortieth year after they leave Egypt. The Jews get closer to the land of Israel and begin to have problems with the people whose land they will be entering. Even more so, Miriam passes away and her well dries up. The Jews are distressed and complain. This time G-d will fix the problem for them. But there has been a warning. Soon they will have to solve these problems for themselves.
Life throws us these moments often. We undergo a transition, and the people around us need to give us that room. When driving on a narrow street, it's tough to turn the car around. Similarly, hovering over someone and cushioning their every mistake can make the transition harder. But the opposite is also true. Sometimes the support is insufficient, and the backup doesn't arrive in time to prevent bad outcomes. As the Jews begin to think of themselves as a people that has to function on the world stage, interact with others, and run their land, their relationship with Hashem changes. Up to this point, Hashem provided them with their every need. From here on, the priority will be to allow them to grow and become more confident in themselves. The transition will be hard, and it will involve great heartache. But it's still essential.
In our own lives, when we see people trying to do something independently, it's tempting to help them. It's tempting to step in and say: "I can do this better." But the truth is that might be the right choice or this time, it might not. Let's spare a thought for those trying to function with less support and be a bit easier on them if it isn't always perfect.