By: Charlie Kramer | HA Member
At all Bnei Akiva summer camps and shabbatons, one can hear the chanichim and madrichim gathered together, singing the famous song of “ הנה אנכי שלח לכם את אליה הנביא.…” Interestingly enough, Parshat Mishpatim actually has a similar pasuk, with Hashem telling Bnei Yisrael, in 23:20: “הִנֵּ֨ה אָנֹכִ֜י שֹׁלֵ֤חַ מַלְאָךְ֙ לְפָנֶ֔יךָ לִשְׁמָרְךָ֖ בַּדָּ֑רֶךְ וְלַהֲבִ֣יאֲךָ֔ אֶל־הַמָּק֖וֹם אֲשֶׁ֥ר הֲכִנֹֽתִי”
“I am sending an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have made ready.”
Appearing at the start of the sixth aliyah, this pasuk is a guarantee from Hashem that Bnei Yisrael will make it to Israel, and be protected along the way. While the commentators argue whether this מַלְאָךְ֙ refers to Moshe or an actual angel, the promise of safe passage for the Jews remains the same. If one reads the pasuk as Rashi does, and believes that this refers to Moshe, there is one question that arises. Moshe did in fact guard the people throughout their time in the desert, but could it really be said that he “brought” them to Israel? After all, Moshe dies before Bnai Yisrael actually enter the land!?
I think this pasuk is teaching us a deeper lesson about leadership, from which we can derive the answer to our question. While reflecting on our most impactful experiences in life, we oftentimes only focus on the outcome or the conclusion. However, what usually makes these experiences meaningful is actually the journey. For Bnai Yisrael, this journey is what makes them into a nation, where they receive the torah, and where they experience Hashem’s miracles everyday. For these 40 years, Moshe leads Bnai Yisrael, right up to the border. While yes, he does not technically bring them over the border, he has done everything he can to prepare them for that moment, and to make sure that his successor Yehoshua is able to continue where he leaves off. Moshe’s real distinction is his ability to be “לִשְׁמָרְךָ֖ בַּדָּ֑רֶךְ,” to guard them on their way. These 40 years are the time where Bnai Yisrael can finally understand how special the land is and to gain a deeper sense of what their destination actually means to them. Moshe empowers the nation, and enables them to continue into Israel without him. This lesson, of the importance of the journey, is one for all of us to continuously keep in mind. We must give gratitude to those who helped us to where we are today and enabled us to continue going even when they were no longer leading the way. Our parents, our madrichim, our teachers, and our rabbis are all examples of the ‘Moshes’ that we can find in our own lives, who guided us to our goals. Our ultimate journey to israel, however, still continues today, and we pray that the words of the prophet Malachi will come true bimheira be’yameinu and we shall soon experience Hashem’s blessing of “וְהֵשִׁ֤יב לֵב־אָבוֹת֙ עַל־בָּנִ֔ים וְלֵ֥ב בָּנִ֖ים עַל־אֲבוֹתָ֑ם”.