Jewish sages claim that all the events described in the Torah have a deep spiritual meaning. And therefore, it is no coincidence that a whole chapter of this ancient book is devoted to the wandering of the Jews for 40 years in the desert.
Forty years is a lot to walk a small piece of land, even if it’s a desert. So what have the Jews been doing in the desert for 40 years? What goal did they need to achieve?
Birth of the Jewish people
The Jewish people were formed during the construction of the Tower of Babel. In those early days, a tremendous social crisis arose in Babylon. No one, including the ruler of this country, the powerful king Nimrod, knew how to resolve this crisis. And then Abraham found a way out of this situation. He offered to rise above all disagreements and start solving all problems out of love for each other. But he was heard only by a handful of people who fled with him from Babylon. This group of Abraham became the ancestor of the Jewish people.
The exit of Jews from Egypt
Abraham’s group grew and became stronger. During the time of Jacob, later called Israel, famine began in the land of Canaan, where the Jews lived.
Joseph, one of Jacob’s twelve sons, became Pharaoh’s right-hand man at this time. In order not to die of hunger, Jacob and all the remaining 11 sons moved to Egypt.
They all settled in the best part of the Egyptian land, in the Goshen region.
In the rich Egyptian land, the families of the sons of Yaakov-Israel grew even more.
After the death of Joseph, Pharaoh came to power, who did not like the Jews. He began to force the Israelites to hard work and made them slaves. At this challenging time, the people who were the future leader of the Jewish people, Moses, were born. Moses was brought up in the family of Pharaoh, but with a great sense of bitterness, he perceived the suffering of his people.
It was Moses who God chose to lead the Jewish people out of Egyptian slavery. And finally, after going through a series of difficult trials, the people of Israel, led by Moses, fled from Egypt.
40 years of Jews in the desert
After several months of wandering in the wilderness, the Jews camped at Mount Sinai. It was here that a significant event took place in the entire Jewish people’s lives – the Jews received the Torah.
Jewish sages write that the Torah was given to the Jews only when they all agreed, as one, to become responsible for each other, that is, to take care first of all about their neighbour and not about themselves.
From that moment to the entry into the land that God had promised the Jews, another forty years passed. Why did it take the Jews forty years to reach the land of Israel?
Is it only so that a new generation will grow up that did not know slavery?
The forty years of walking in the desert symbolise forty steps that the Jewish people must go through to rise to the level of Bestowal and Love for their neighbour. Therefore, this continues until all the desires in Egypt die, that is, under the rule of selfishness. And new desires ready for Bestowal will not arise in their place. And only then can one get to Israel – a country that exists according to entirely different principles, not typical of other peoples, where everyone lives not for themselves, but the sake of the Highest.
The state of the desert is such a feeling in a person when he cannot use his egoism, that is, the desire to enjoy only for himself, precisely for his pleasure. He has no so-called “fertile soil” in which it is possible to revive himself. Like in the material desert, there is no food or water inside a person – a person cannot get enough.
In our time, a very similar process is taking place in society. All the achievements of the modern world cannot satisfy many people today. And even if they are materially well arranged and have everything for food and much more, all this does not fill a person. People don’t see the meaning in life. The whole world is becoming a desert for many people. Therefore, many people become depressed, addicted to drugs, engage in terror and unleash wars.
And there is only one way out of this situation: to enter the state of “the sons of Israel in the wilderness.” The modern sons of Israel can teach all people what they have already done themselves – to stop seeing pleasure in selfishness and receive pleasure only in good relations. And then, just like many centuries ago, when the Jews followed their leader Moshe, the peoples of the world will follow the new Israel, striving for love of neighbour.