Each of experiences a spiritual wilderness from time to time - we feel out of place, alienated from the very core of what we've become and who we are. There is a sense of being cast aside by our own lives and decisions - suddenly a world and way of living that felt rich and plentiful is burdensome and lifeless.
In the Torah portion this week Moses recounts the earlier episode when the Israelites, anxious that their journey will not end well, accuse God of bringing them out of slavery to die in the desert because God hates them.
The Zohar argues that this wandering into the wilderness was an opportunity. The wilderness is a place controlled by the 'sitra achra' - the forces that act against life and goodness. God prepared the journey so that Israel would have strength there and could vanquish those forces once and for all - by wanderin theough the darkness they could overcome it with internal strength. But the Israelites could only see the danger and not the opportunity.
We have to look again at these wilderness walks, their dry arid threats of danger and dissolution and disorientation, and see them not as places empty of meaning, but as places that challenge us to overcome them with internal strength. They are not wrong ways but are rather essential to our development.
Rabbi Joshua Rose
3950 Baseline Road
Boulder CO 80303