Slow and Steady
Beshalach (Exodus 13:17-17:16 )
Slow and steady growth is what wins the educational race.
The miracle of the splitting of the Red Sea must have been something very special. Walls of water towering hundreds of feet high on either side. And no sooner do you walk through than the water comes crashing down on the mighty Egyptian army. Even the lowliest of Jews, say our Sages, reached the spiritual levels of the great prophet Ezekiel. Spontaneously and together, the Jewish people sang a song of incredibly deep prophetic insight.
And then, no more than a few days later, those very same people were complaining that they had no water.
At first glance, it's hard to understand. But it really is simple human nature. Emotional highs beget emotional lows.
Often when you look at people who are depressed, it's not a homogenous experience. You often find depressed people who intermittently experience the most incredible highs. And then, as high as they reach, their low is lower. One of the great addictions of drugs and alcohol is the low that one experiences afterwards. A person feels so low that they crave the high again to escape the place they are in right now.
When you've experienced the high at the top of Everest, how can sea level ever hold excitement for you again?
Highs are not necessarily good for us. They are exciting. They are indulgent. But in the long term, they are much more likely to depress than motivate.
You can find today forms of Jewish education that are focused around highs: the thrill of kabbalah, the thrill of a spiritual experience. In the short term, it looks great. And it looks like it produces results. But it doesn't create emotionally healthy individuals, and so I believe it to be irresponsible education.
Slow and steady growth is what wins the educational race. It's not glamorous; it's not exciting. But it's very healthy. Find a reliable teacher who has a track record of success - with lasting results. For unless we want a nation of "complaining Ezekiels," that's the only way to go.