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Overcoming Obstacles

By: Rabbi Barak Bar-Chaim

The Torah states that when Pharaoh sent the Jewish people out of the land of Egypt, God chose to take the Jewish people on a long, convoluted route into the land of Israel. God did not lead them on the shorter, direct route because He knew that the local inhabitants of the Land of Israel would confront the Jewish people in war, resulting in the Jewish people regretting their migration and deciding to return to Egypt.

The fact that this was recorded in the Torah clearly shows that God wanted us to understand His rationale in guiding the Jewish people on the longer, more arduous route. What is the generational message here? How are we enriched by knowing this seemingly insignificant fact?

I would like to suggest that the message is very simple, profound, and relevant to our lives. The Torah is teaching us that our success in overcoming life’s challenges is directly proportional to our view of the viability of failure in overcoming challenge and adversity. When we view the return to the previous status quo as a viable option, our probability of success is diminished. On the other hand, when we feel there is no going back and no option but to succeed and overcome our challenges, we find within ourselves the necessary resources to overcome obstacles. Our latent strengths and abilities surface in ways that often surprise us.

The key that the Torah is teaching us about overcoming obstacles is to cultivate an attitude that going backwards and returning to our previous situation is simply not a feasible possibility. With the attitude that overcoming our challenges is the only possibility, we will successfully overcome all obstacles and challenges.