This week’s Parsha, Maasei, lists the various stops that Jewish People made in their 40 year sojourn in the desert. Rashi explains that while there may appear to be an impressive list of locations that would imply constant wandering, the opposite is the truth. The majority of the places listed were either before the Meraglim when they were on a bee’s line path for the Land of Israel, or in the final months when again their progress was unimpeded. The intervening 38 years when they were “wandering aimlessly” only took them to 19 sites, an average of one move every two years. Why is this so significant?
The generations that left Egypt and matured in the desert were characterized by the need to completely internalize a new way of life based on the Torah and Mitzvos. To insure their ability to accomplish this monumental undertaking to fashion an entire society in a few short decades, total immersion in Torah and service of Hashem was necessary. To facilitate this, their every physical need was provided for without effort or worry; their food and water were miraculously provided for, their clothing was cleaned for them and even grew with them, and the Clouds of Glory both ensured their security as well as serving as a GPS. They had no need to worry about satisfying their employer, paying bills or home maintenance. Thanks to these provisions, they were able to totally immerse themselves in their spiritual growth and accomplish the goal of complete transformation to a Nation based on the Torah.
However, had they suffered the minor inconvenience of frequent moves, all this would have been for naught. Apparently, one who is unsettled and lacking in routine cannot fully utilize all his other abundant advantages, and his concentration is severely impaired.
I wish all of you the tranquility necessary to succeed in your spiritual endeavors, including of course the Choshen Mishpat program. While we obviously do need to deal with all the distractions inherent in living in the “real world,” each variable that can be eliminated has a significant effect. May we also manage to overcome the hurdles that do present themselves, and find in them tools for growth. After all, the period of time our fledgling nation spent in the Midbar was only a preparation for the primary phase of serving Hashem which commenced with their entrance to Eretz Yisroel, when they were subject to many of the tribulations that affect us today.