Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
In the week's Torah portion, we are given a detailed survey of the nation of Israel's wanderings in the desert which, at first glance, may appear nothing more than a long and exhausting ordeal. 42 encampments during our 40-year journey are listed chronologically until, at last, we merit to enter the Promised Land.
Our sages explain that we undertake many protracted, arduous journeys throughout our lives. As we march along, it is not always possible to understand the purpose of everything that happens. Our vision is limited as we focus on one specific occurrence after the next. We may experience a crisis that seems to have no solution or get the feeling that, instead of moving forward, we are in retreat. We may have climactic moments only to discover that true redemption is still a long way off.
After 40 years in the desert, the nation looks back and sees things differently. There is a new understanding that every step of the journey was important, that we learned both from our successes and from our failures.
The parasha teaches us how vital it is to keep everything in perspective, to take a wider view. This ability to step back and see the big picture can benefit us not only as a nation but on an individual level as well. We need to be reminded that what is happening now is only a single segment of a great and meaningful journey that, without a doubt, will all make perfect sense in the end.