By HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir
“G-d did not lead them along the Philistine Highway, although it was the shorter route.
G-d’s consideration was that if the people encountered armed resistance, they would lose
heart and return to Egypt” (Exodus 13:17-18).
Rashi explains that if the Israelites took the simplest, straightest route, they would
return to Egypt when they encountered war. G-d therefore led them around from the simple
route to a more roundabout route.
Indeed, in order to deal with warfare and other confrontations and not to collapse and
flee, we need spiritual strength. We need strong faith and a strong spirit.
When the Jewish People left Egypt, they were a nation of slaves. Slavery over
hundreds of years had left its imprint upon them. The Israelites were like the slave who says,
“I love my master. I shall not go out to freedom,” for fear of future wars and existential
The cure for people who fear such wars over their independence and freedom is to
become stronger in faith and to cling to the Torah. This is what G-d did for Israel in the
Desert: “G-d made the people take the roundabout path, by way of the desert” (Exodus
13:18). It was there in the desert that Israel undertook the yoke of Heaven and the yoke of
Torah. For forty years they underwent a process of consolidation as a nation. And then, they
went up to Eretz Yisrael “chamushim,” well armed (13:18). They were well armed with
faith, well armed with the five books of the Torah [Chumash], well armed both spiritually
and emotionally, knowing why they were going up to Eretz Yisrael.
Today, the Jewish People need to become stronger and to arm themselves with
spiritual resources and with strong faith, imbibing from our sources, our holy Torah.
Through this we will be privileged to continue ascending upward on the winding path,
sometimes laden with obstacles and difficulties, towards complete redemption.
Looking forward to complete salvation,
Tu B'Shvat Sameach