For the past century, we have been perfecting the art of high-speed travel. We can now get from any point on the globe to another in a matter of hours. But apparently that is not fast enough for some—they want to get there within minutes. And the sky is no longer the limit. Futuristic modes of travel include personal space flights, and high-speed tubes such as Elon Musk’s hyperloop.

But where are we headed at such breakneck speed?

We find a few instances in the Torah of preternaturally shortened travel. When Abraham’s servant Eliezer traveled from Canaan to Aram to seek a wife for Isaac, he covered the distance, a three-day journey by foot, in just one day.1 The sky is no longer the limitSimilarly, the road shortened for Jacob on his way from Beersheba to Charan to find a wife.2

During their initial journey in the desert, it seemed that the Jewish people were likewise on the express track. On the verse, “It is an eleven-day journey from Chorev to Kadesh Barnea” (Deuteronomy 1:2), Rashi comments that the Jewish people traversed this distance in only three days.

But despite the early head start, matters played out quite differently. Instead of going supernaturally fast, we went supernaturally slow, and spent 40 years wandering in the desert.

It seems that the Torah leaves room here for only two extremes—either a dramatically shortened journey or a dramatically drawn-out one.

The Jewish people set out from Egypt destined for the Promised Land. And there were two possible ways of getting there. One way was high-speed travel. G‑d could have whisked them off, posthaste, and settled them in the Land of Israel without delay.

But something would have been missing. The Jews would have missed out on an important process of soul-searching and self-growth had they entered Israel immediately. They needed a transition period. They needed time to shed the habits and outlook that had grown on them during more than 200 years of slavery in Egypt. They needed to process and internalize all that they had been taught at Mount Sinai. And they needed to do it through their own efforts. From this perspective, an express trip to Israel would have done them no favors.

The Baal Shem Tov teaches that each of the 42 journeys that the Jews took in the desert represents a different stage of life,3 and we all pass through these stages on the way to our personal Promised Land. How we get through them is up to us.

Ultimately, the purpose of receiving the Torah and settling the Land of Israel was to accomplish a merger of the physical and spiritual—to transform the earth into a home for G‑d. When it is handed to us from above, it may be easier and faster, but unsatisfying in the long run.

There is a dual message for us, living as we do in the We may not be paying enough attention to the detailshigh-speed era. Our attention span measures in seconds, and we expect to have everything—from our video-on-demand to our food order—delivered immediately. But certain things in life cannot be rushed. In our haste to cover ground, we may not be paying enough attention to the details of the journey. We need time to savor the process and truly experience each stage as it comes.

On the other hand, perhaps we are mastering high-speed travel for a reason. During the course of our 2,000-year exile, we’ve taken a slow and tortuous route. We’ve done it the long way and the hard way, and now we’re through. In retrospect, we are grateful for the grueling journey that we completed through our own efforts. But we’re past the point where further wandering would be beneficial. It’s time to come home. We want Moshiach, and we want him now.

(Based on an address of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Likkutei Sichot, vol. 19, pp. 1–8.)