As a last summer hurrah, we took the kids to Tallulah Gorge Sliding Rock.  If you’ve been to Talulah gorge, after crossing the suspension bridge you go down a couple of hundred steps until you get to the base of the gorge.  That’s just the beginning of the journey.

Then you take your shoes off and treacherously cross across the giant rocks and slippery moss and make it to the other side – hopefully.  We lost a sneaker, some of us got wet and a couple of slips and falls.

Then the hike begins. Not on a path that has been forged before like a typical mountain hike.  Instead we were jumping from rock to rock, boulder to boulder – at times quite slippery.  Climbing into the adjacent woods, navigating giant spider webs, decomposing branches and trying not to fall.

The kids were champs, even or especially the one without the second sneaker.  Eventually we made it to the sliding rock.  An actual slide of rock into a pool below.  

The return was a bit quicker and less complicated as we were now experienced off-roading hikers.  The 100’s of steps up to the Tallulah Gorge visitors center were the test of our stamina. But we all made it to the top and enjoyed a carb and protein filled late lunch to re-energize us for the ride home.

A good day had by all! 

I was nervous and scared at times but I put on a good show for the kids.  As we were moving through the journey I was thinking that resilience to life’s challenges are being built at each frightening boulder, each slippery rock and each path conquered.  What inner awarenesses are each child having as they need to decide whether to move forward or give up?  To overcome the fear after slipping? To look forward to the destination and understanding that to get there is a journey? To lean on each other for help and assistance?  Inner powers are being released in a simple or not so simple morning hike!

In this week’s Parsha, Moshe says that Hashem tests us to know if we love Him with all of our heart and soul.  The Chasidic Masters read the verse as follows; “for Hashem your G-d tests you, so that you will KNOW”.  

The journey of being tested brings out our capacity to know, to be aware, to internalize that which heretofore was only intellectual. Knowledge is not just an intellectual component of the brain, but the application of it in a very personal, real and felt sense manner.

The challenges we face, whether self imposed, like hiking or personal goals or the challenges that are imposed upon us from without, by Hashem and life’s circumstances, all of them are journeys to knowledge.  To know Hashem’s presence in our world, in our person and in every experience.  

It is up to us to look for G-d in the tests.  When we do, we get to Know Hashem that much more.

Thanks to my brother, Rabbi Eliyahu Schusterman, of Chabad Intown, Atlanta, for sharing this thought.

Have a great Shabbos!

Rabbi Mendel Schusterman