In Parasha Eikev, Moses continues his review of the mitzvot. He explains that, when the Jewish people follow the Torah and obey the commandments, they will be rewarded with fruitful families and lands, with abundant crops and flocks.
Then, Moses describes how Scouting works! He describes how God took the Israelites through the Wilderness for 40 years, to test them. God made food scarce, but gave them a new food, unlike anything they had had before, manna, to teach them that “not by bread alone does man live, rather by everything that emanates from the mouth of God does man live. Your garment did not wear out upon you and your feet did not swell these 40 years. You should know in your heart that just as a father will chastise his son, so the Lord, your God, chastises you.” (Deuteronomy 8:3-5)
The Children of Israel were tested in the Wilderness with thirst and hunger they had never encountered before, and because they believed in God they received food every morning with the dew (the manna) and their clothing and shoes did not wear out. These were miracles provided by God. Even when the Israelites sinned, when Moses (the greatest Scoutmaster in history) asked God to forgive them, they received forgiveness. So, like a father correcting his child, God challenged the Israelites and, if they did not respond well, God corrected them, so they would learn.
Scouting tests you by challenging you to do things you never did before. Until you began camping with your troop, how many hot meals had you prepared by yourself? How often had you made yourself dry and comfortable in the rain by putting up a tent and getting your gear in it before it got soaked? Had you hiked five miles with a backpack? And when you don’t get the skills right, your patrol leader (who was trained by your Scoutmaster) shows you again how to do it.
The idea is the same. In the Wilderness God prepared the Israelites to face challenges in the spiritual and moral world by following the guide to living lives of holiness – the mitzvot. In the physical world, we prepare to face challenges in our camping wilderness by following the guide to living lives of self-reliance and helpfulness – the Scout Promise and Law.
Even more important, we have the same guide for spiritual living our ancestors did – the Torah. And lucky us, we didn’t have to wander 40 years in the desert to receive it.