Our Sedra this week begins with a battle, against the Egyptians, and ends with a battle with Amalek. In the middle is the great miracle of the crossing of the Red Sea and the introduction of Shabbat, the double portion of manna on the seventh day.

The greatest thing we received was Shabbat. We learnt that with rest we are able to create. Other cultures such as the Greeks and the Romans would sneer at a wasted day but there is the famous saying that “more than the Jewish people have kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jewish people”

Why did God lead us into the wilderness and not along the easier coast route? Perhaps we were not ready to learn who we were and needed time, space, guidance and the opportunity to learn by our mistakes

We started out with hopes and expectations, going out from slavery to a promised land. In our own lives we tend to think that we know where we are going, but real life has a way of happening all around us. We have to learn and to grow. On Monday we celebrate Tu b’Shevat, the New Year for Trees. We see new life in trees after winter. It represents faith in renewal.  To keep our eyes open and to retain hope gives us the ability to move on in our lives.