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Beshallach

“For God said the people may have a change of heart when they see war and return to Egypt” Exodus 13:17

    In Beshallach, God majestically leads the people through the desert to the Promised Land — how exciting the prospect of a new life must have been for the recently freed slaves.


    However, we soon discover that God is concerned about our fortitude and He diverts our path away from Philistine territory lest we see imminent war and rush back to the security of Egypt.


     Rambam derives an important principle here: God does not challenge His creations with circumstances they cannot handle. It teaches an essential lesson regarding our relationship with God and freedom.


    We do not simply say that God spares us situations we cannot handle because it would be unfair. It goes deeper; God does not present situations we cannot overcome because He is not interested in our failure. No one roots for our success more than our Maker. When we acknowledge this, we allow ourselves to accept His helping hand to face difficulties and thus achieve greatness.


    The idea makes sense, but do we really think this way? Perhaps subliminally, many of us believe that God waits to catch us in our transgressions. After many years of counselling people, I can confidently say that we often allow ourselves to believe God is a foreboding being and our ultimate task is to avoid His wrath. Nothing is further from the truth.


    God does not delight in our defeats nor seek exacting punishment. He not only empowers His creations but wills their triumph. His children’s success is, in a sense, His success. With each of our achievements, our creation is vindicated. However, there is one caveat. The achievements must be our own accomplishments, which stand independently on their own merits. 


    If God were to create entities already complete, having achieved wholeness by no choice of their own, what value would they really have? The meaning of our existence lies in our full freedom to create ourselves, which is the greatest beauty of creation. How we ultimately exist is a direct result of our choice to exist.

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