“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them,” is a famous quote from Albert Einstein.
This statement is a truism which is intuitive. If at first you don’t succeed don’t attempt the same method again, change your approach!
Yet we fall into this web all the time. It is difficult to climb out of the rut of habit. Thinking outside of our box of experience is easier said than thought.
The Torah, in Parshat Masei, records the travels of the Children of Israel in the wilderness, from the time they left Egypt until they were on the brink of entering the land of Canaan, spanning nearly forty years. There were forty two encampments and they are all listed, but they are listed in a curious way. ‘And they traveled from xxxx and they camped in yyyy.’ The record of each encampment lists not only the place where they set up camp, but also lists the previous camp from which they traveled. Why do we need to be reminded of where they were travelling from? The previous verse just told us where their prior camp was. Naturally, to arrive at their next destination (yyyy) they would have to leave the previous camp (xxxx).
The lesson here is as above. The journeys of the Children of Israel in the wilderness were not merely places and encampments. They reflected the growth of the people along the way. But you cannot climb to a higher rung on a ladder and still hold on to the lower rung. To use another metaphor, one cannot use the thinking of a bachelor after one is married and carries the responsibility of accommodating the feelings of a partner. One must leave behind the previous frame of mind in order to advance to the next stage.
This is the lesson of the Torah in its listing not only each destination but also the prior place of encampment ‘from which they departed.’