Samuel David Luzato, know as the Shadal, from Padua is not be confused with Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzato. The Shadal brings up very interesting points about this week’s Torah portion, Beshalach. In Chapter 13 of Exodus God says that he is going to bring the Israelites, not on the shortcut through the land of the Philistines, but in a kind of roundabout way around the Philistines. Why? Because God didn’t want them to be involved in battle so soon after coming out of Egypt. So the Shadal says that there are two reasons for this.
The first is that if the Israelites, right after coming out of slavery, had to endure the horrors of battle they would be discouraged and want to return to Egypt – to slavery. He postulates that they might have preferred slavery over battle. As a result, God leads them in a roundabout way instead of taking the shortcut.
This is a wonderful lesson for us because sometimes in our own humanness, in our carnality, we want to take shortcuts, to bypass difficulties. Sometimes, however, God leads us in a roundabout way for a specific reason.
The second reason the Shadal gives for why God leads the Israelites in this roundabout way is because they need to go through proper training for the receiving of the Torah. They need to have time to internalize the laws and rules that God is going to give them at Mt. Sinai in order to make them a nation. They’ve got to come out of a slavery mentality and start to act like a people, a people unto themselves, a people for God. In doing that, taking the roundabout course and not going to the promised land quickly they will have the proper training.
Additionally, the Shadal brings up, that should the people go right to the promised land, then they would have dispersed to all of their ancestral territories and it would have been very difficult to train them as one people, as a nation. Keeping the people together longer allowed Moses, with God’s word at his disposal, to teach them as one cohesive people group.
We see that sometimes God has a strategy that we are not always aware of. And sometimes we think that we know better, can take the shortcut, cut corners. But that’s not always the best thing. Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should. God has a way of looking at the world that we can’t see. After all the bible says His ways are higher than ours, that His thoughts are higher than ours and that He sees the picture in a way that we don’t and can’t see it.
In your life you may be given an opportunity to take a shortcut. But we have found many times in the scripture and in the testimony of our own lives that sometimes taking the longer route teaches us the lessons that we need in order to be prepared for what is coming in the future – what we can’t see.
I have been on location this week with Rabbi Shapira and his family and I want to publicly thank him and them for their wonderful hospitality. We are filming new seasons of Shuvu Yeladim, the program for children and I hope you will sign your children up for this wonderful seventh season. We have covered all the books of the Torah, the Hebrew Alef Bet and Musar, ethics, how we should be people living for Hashem.
Tu B’shevat is this week, I hope you will tune in and also download the Haggadah for the Tu B’Shevat seder. You still have time to donate for the planting of trees in the land of Israel, always a good thing to do at this time of year. You can sign up to study with me in the Kosher Pastor program on this website, all seven courses are still bundled. If you are African or of African American descent, I hope you will join our Uri program at af.shuvu.tv – building bridges between those two communities.
As always, Shalom and Kol Tuv