TORAH TUESDAYS: PARSHAT CHUKAT
BY HENNIE BLACK
THE Jewish people ARE ABOUT TO ENTER THE PROMISED LAND… THEIR LONG, ARDUOUS 40-YEAR JOURNEY IS ABOUT TO COME TO AN END… WHEN THEY ARE FORCED TO REVERSE COURSE AND TAKE A DETOUR BECAUSE THE EDOMITE KING REFUSES MOSHE’S REQUEST TO PASS THROUGH HIS LAND.
wHAT DO THE jewish people DO IN THIS MOMENT OF CRUSHING DISAPPOINTMENT?
WHAT LESSONS CAN WE LEARN TODAY IN HOW TO HANDLE THE OBSTACLES THAT CONFRONT US?
In this week’s Parshat Chukat, the Jewish people are in their 40th year of travelling through the desert. They are about to enter into the land of Israel.
But before they do so, they have to pass through the land of a few nations to get to their destination. Thus, the Jewish nation find themselves at the border of Edom, a short distance south of the land of Israel.
Moshe sends a message to the King of Edom, requesting permission to travel through his land. Moshe assures Edom that they will take the less travelled road and not use any of its resources. Edom responds quickly in the negative, asserting that they will come out “with the sword” to meet them in battle. The Jewish people further try to negotiate with the Edomites, attempting to convince them to allow them to pass through, but the King of Edom does not waver whatsoever.
Imagine how devastating and frustrating it must have felt like for the Jewish people: They have been wandering for the last 40 years. Finally, they can see their destination, their goal just within their grasp. They are so ready for this moment!
Yet Edom denies the Jews entry and they are forced to turn away and travel in a complete roundabout way through the territories of the Emorites. What a detour! They did not expect this stumbling block, this obstacle, this turn of events to come in their way.
Although the Jewish people were not allowed to pass through the land of Edom, they did not give up! In fact they persevered. They accepted their fate and took a complete detour, successfully travelling through the Emorite territories and marching triumphantly into Israel.
What an insightful lesson for us as well. Sometimes in life, right when we think we are almost there, just as we feel that we have almost reached our goal, just when we can taste success, we find ourselves facing an unexpected challenge, a stumbling block, a detour that we could have never imagined.
There are two choices that we have at that point. We can easily give up and determine that it was not meant to be. Or we can get back up, figure out a roundabout way, and eventually reach our destination. It is up to us to determine what direction we wish to take.
We must also recognize that these stumbling blocks, these hurdles, are in fact opportunities for growth, stepping stones to build us and make us into who we are meant to become. We must seize these moments as moments of opportunity, never giving up hope, realizing that the journey is part of the destination!