Torah Portion: B’shallach (And It Came to Pass) Exodus (Sh’mot) 13:17-17:16
Haftorah Reading: Judges 4:4-5:31
This Torah portion begins with the actual Exodus from Egypt that will not end until we get through the last book of Torah. It begins with verse 13:17 where we read that G-d took them the long way around rather than the more direct route by way of the Philistines. The question arises why did He choose the long way rather than a direct path? What do you think? Keep in mind also that before this portion ends we read of the people fighting and winning a battle with the Amalekites. So, there must be a deeper reason other than the fear of war.
One reason may be hinted at in the Hebrew word for Egypt. This word is Mitzryim. In Hebrew it means limits or restrictions. Remember these people lived for 400 years in a place that had strict limits on their lives. You can take a slave out of Egypt but it takes time to take slavery out of the slave. I think this time in the wilderness was to give them time to learn new boundaries for their lives, more G-dly boundaries. For the first time they had to make choices on their own and deal with the results of those choices.