By nature I am quite an impatient person, and when we're traveling somewhere I want to get there as quickly as possible. For that reason I love Waze and the fact that it will give me the quickest route possible; utilizing every conceivable short cut, while avoiding traffic and obstacles to get to my destination as quickly as possible. Recently we've taken a number of road trips as a family and while I have been focused on getting us where we needed to go I have also started to realize that for Gabby the journey can be almost just as much fun. She loves looking at the nature around us, she enjoys playing “I Spy”, and she even derives joy from the various cars and trucks that pass us by. She reminds me to stop and look around rather than focusing on simply getting where I need to be.
In many ways this is the same message as we have throughout the Torah. Considering all of the focus on the Promised Land and reaching the Land of Israel one might think that our Torah is all about the destination, but in reality it's the story of the journey. From the beginning of Shemot (Exodus) through until the end of Devarim (Deuteronomy) we tell the story of the Israelites journey to the Promised Land. It's not about the destination; instead it is a story of the route, the path, and the journey to get there.
This week Moses tells the people: “Remember the long way that Adonai your God has made you travel in the wilderness these past forty years” (Deut 8:2). Moses wants the people to remember that they did not choose the quickest route and instead chose the long way round, or at least had God choose it for them. In this way God knew that the people needed to appreciate the journey and that only through the journey would they grow and develop as a community and as a people.
At the conclusion of their journey they were ready to reach their destination; not because of the physical mileage that they had covered, but because of the spiritual growth that had taken place. Moses reminds us that Torah is about appreciating the journey; remember it and valuing it, not simply focusing on the destination.
In many ways I think the Torah is suggesting that Waze should have a new setting. Instead of the quickest route or the route of least mileage, Waze should have a setting for the most beautiful route, the most scenic route, or even the most spiritually uplifting route. Maybe if we could program our G.P.S. in that way we would be able to really appreciate the journey and not focus solely on the destination