The distance from Mount Sinai to the banks of the Jordan River where Moses spoke to the Children of Israel overlooking the Promised Land is about an eleven day march on foot. And yet, it took 40 years before we would finally arrive!
The story of that long journey, our wanderings through the wilderness, recounted in this week’s Torah Portion D’varim, teaches us that the journey from slavery to freedom was not one of distance, but of time. The generation who followed after Moses, through fear and plagues, through walls of waters; who stood in awe and terror at the foot of Mount Sinai as Moses brought down God’s Ten Commandments – they had learned to follow their faith. But when they were called to become the creators of their own destiny, they stepped back in doubt and in fear.
This new generation who had never known slavery, who were raised in the wilderness, who had fought their way home, stand now again within sight of the Promised Land – and this time they choose to be the makers of their long awaited destiny. Moses speaks these words of D’varim to a people united by their journey.
This is what we mean when we pray:
“Standing on the parted shores of history, we still believe what we were taught before ever we stood at Sinai’s foot; that wherever we go, it is eternally Egypt, that there is a better place, a Promised Land; that the winding way to that promise passes through the wilderness. That there is no way to get from here to there except by joining hands, marching together.”
That journey of our people continues still today, that promise of our future is still waiting to be redeemed, and the lesson of that journey remain with us as well. That there is no way to get from here to there except by joining hands, and marching together.