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Dvar Torah - Ekev

This Shabbat, we learn how Moshe saw the journey through the desert. It was, as he notes, a "torment”. What was so terrible about the trip? We went through the desert eating miraculous food, which we harvested without effort. Clouds of glory moved before us to flatten the land, and the clouds also laundered our clothes and kept them ironed. G-d provided for our every need, and we didn't need to do anything at all. It sounds like a paradise for which people usually pay a lot of money!

Most people like being pampered. One or two days when someone else does everything for you is excellent. It feels like a holiday. But any more can be too much. We like to be independent. We like the feeling of looking after ourselves. Above all, we like having a purpose.

When the Jews went through the desert, they had no reason to be there. They were moving from place to place as they waited for the forty years in the desert to end and for the generation which left Egypt to die. In this context, it was a trial, a test of our determination. And though there were obstacles and low moments, we passed. In the end, we showed that our stubbornness was not only a flaw but could also be helpful. We could push through despite the obstacles. When our very existence seemed pointless, sheer determination helped us push through.

Our hard-headedness continues to be beneficial today. Sometimes we ace an obstacle that makes things harder for us. Other times, our lives become too easy, almost pointless. Determination is the trait that allows us not merely to overcome roadblocks but to find meaning when it seems to be missing. May we all overcome whichever obstacles we see in our way.

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