The Grass is Greener on the Other Side
Moshe wrote their going forth according to their journeys at the bidding of Hashem, and these were their journeys according to their going forth. (Num. 33:2)
This week's portion summarizes the entire route followed by the Jews from when they left Egypt until they were ready to enter Eretz Yisrael. The parsha begins, "Moshe wrote their going forth according to their journeys." At the end of that same verse this idea is repeated, but the words are reversed: "And these were their journeys according to their going forth." Why is the order switched?
The beginning of the verse expresses how Hashem regarded their travels. Whenever God wanted them to go forth He wanted them to progress to the next step in his plan, to journey toward their destiny. Every stop was custom-made, tailored to help them towards their goal. Each place came with challenges developing the nation's character. However, the second verse looks at the traveling from the nation's point of view. The people saw things differently. It is human nature for one to think that he would be much happier and more productive if only he were somewhere else. They would journey simply to go forth, hoping it would be better in their next destination, hoping it would have more to offer, but not because they were thinking of reaching their purpose.(1)
It is common to think, "If only I was in a different school, if only I lived someplace else, if only, if only, if only ... I would be so much more productive." But the truth is that the exact situation that you are in has been designed especially for you, to help you achieve your full potential. According to the Chofetz Chaim this principle is reflected in God's words to Moshe: "The place on which you stand is holy ground." (2) Despite all its difficulties, the situation that you are in - right here and right now, is holy, and this is the time and place where you are able to grow. You don't need to go anywhere else.
Furthermore, the grass only looks greener on the other side because you are looking at it from a distance. You don't see any of the blotches and cracks since the grass is covering them. All you see is beautiful green grass. However when you actually go there, you then see all the blemishes and all the breaks. It is not the same grass you saw from afar! Any school you attend or any place you live has its own obstacles and difficulties to overcome. Therefore, a person has to train himself to be happy in the present situation and not constantly look "over the fence"!
1. Based on R' Samson Rafael Hirsch.
2. Shemos 3:5.