So God turned the people towards the desert of the Sea of Reeds…
Exodus 13.18 (Parashat Beshallach)
What is the quickest way for 600,000 Israelites to leave Egypt? If we looked at a map, we would notice that the Land of Goshen, where the Israelites lived, was along the Mediterranean Coast. The easiest and quickest route would have been to walk along the sea shore until they arrived in the Land of Israel.
But it did not happen that way. The Torah provides us with a wonderful marker in time when it states in the prior verse that the Philistines were already living along the coast. The Philistines were a powerful, advanced civilization – possibly of Greek origin – who built large cities, raised great armies and were feared for centuries. For example, Goliath was a Philistine; they were Israel’s nemesis for centuries.
Whether the Philistines were living along the modern-day Gaza Strip at the time of the Exodus – or a later writer, who knew of the Philistines, inserted them into the story to provide a point of reference – is not important. What is important is that this provides an explanation as to why the Israelites had to cross the desert and the Sea of Reeds in order to become free.
In other words, God saw a need to pivot, to change course in order to achieve success. This pivot led to the great defeat of the Egyptian Army, the Song at the Sea and, most important, the revelation at Sinai. In this instance, a change of direction was a marvelous idea.
As leaders, we too should look for opportunities to pivot, to change direction when it becomes necessary. A product is not selling and a cut in price isn’t doing the trick? Pivot – remove the product from inventory, redesign or repackage it or even rename it: a pivot changes the perception of the product and reframes the discussion in your favor.
Let me put it another way: if God could change course, so can we! If God is not too stubborn as to lead our people into certain destruction, than we should have the wisdom to know when we should change course as well. Times change and so does God – and so should we.