Who Says Easier Is Better?

Yael Eckstein  |  August 3, 2022

Mount Scopus in Jerusalem in 1900
(Photo: Library of Congress)

You grumbled in your tents and said, “The LORD hates us; so he brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us.” — Deuteronomy 1:27

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Devarim which means “words,” from Deuteronomy 1:1–3:22.

Sometimes people ask me, and others like me who immigrated to Israel from the West, why we gave up a life of relative ease and security to live in a land with so many dangers and challenges. I always explain that the Jewish people didn’t return to Israel because it’s an easy place to live or because it is rich in natural resources. We came here because it is our God-given homeland, in spite of the difficulties.

It’s been that way since the early years of the rebirth of Israel. In the 1920s and 1930s, young Jews came from all over the world to help restore and work the land. These pioneers, known as chalutzim in Hebrew, are famous for working long, hot days draining swamps and planting trees.

The people were poor, and there was little infrastructure in the country. It was a very, very hard life. But at the end of the day, when the sun set, the people would dance and play music. Why? Because despite the difficulties these early pioneers faced — some of which we still face today in Israel — their hearts were full and their lives were meaningful. Who says easier is better?

Who Said Easier Is Better?

We see this lesson in this week’s Torah portion. Moses was recounting the events of the 40-year journey through the desert. He reminded the children of Israel of the sin of the spies when the entire nation fell into despair and fear. We read, “You grumbled in your tents and said, ‘The LORD hates us; so he brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us.’”

If you recall, the spies had called Canaan a land that “devours those living in it” (Numbers 13:32) and described the mighty armies that they would need to overcome to conquer it. The children of Israel saw these challenges as a curse, rather than a blessing. They even wanted to return to Egypt where they were slaves. At least there, they didn’t need to struggle for their own land and food.

But the struggle for the land was a blessing, just as it is in our day. It’s the challenges that we overcome that make us stronger. Who says easier is better?

Your Turn:

In facing your struggles and challenges, remember that God gives you these as a blessing — to make you stronger. Have faith that He is with you and will see you through them.