Mrs. Cohen was reading to the class the verse that begins this week's Torah portion: "These are the words that Moses spoke to all of nation of Israel on the east bank of the Jordan... an eleven day journey from Horeb."

"That means that instead of the forty years of journeys in the desert, the entire trip from Mount Sinai to the land of Israel could have taken only eleven days!" exclaimed Sarah.

"Do you know why it took so long then?" Mrs. Cohen asked.

"Yes," Sarah answered. "After the sin of the spies, G‑d said that He would not bring the Jews into Israel until forty years passed. Still, forty years is a long time for an eleven day journey. That's a very severe punishment."

"You have to understand," Mrs. Cohen said, "G‑d doesn't punish just to hurt. When G‑d punishes, He's trying to help the person who sinned and inspire him to change his ways. That's why the Jews wandered in the desert for so long. There is a Chassidic saying: 'It took G‑d one moment to take the Jews out of Egypt, and forty years to take Egypt out of the Jews.'

"All the time the Jews were in the desert, they were busy working on their character and deeds, preparing themselves to enter Israel. To prepare themselves following their sins."