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Behaalotecha 5783

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Rabbi Geier


BSD || Rabbi Geier

Behaalotecha 5783

Parashat Behaalotcha places us in a complicated moment during the journey of the people of Israel in the desert. Many well-known episodes have already taken place: the Golden Calf, the Giving of the Torah, and some complaints from the people of Israel. In this case, there is a complaint that, upon reading it, seems out of place. The people of Israel complain about missing the cucumbers and all the seasonings and delicacies they received for free as food in Egypt. It's as if the value of freedom were not as important as these indulgences that seemingly existed in Egypt. It's as if slavery didn't weigh on them. These seemingly trivial things were what mattered.

Moses grows weary. Moses is already a leader who is tired: tired of this people who never cease to complain, who request cucumbers over freedom. So when he communicates with the Kadosh, Baruch Hu, he says, "Well, I've had enough, just take my life. What is this? I did not create this people, I did not give them life. Why do I have to take on the role of a caretaker, leading them from one place to another? If You want to give them the Promised Land, then give it to them. But why involve me in this? What is this? What they're asking for makes no sense."

Moses despises his own people and wants to end his own life because he sees no alternative. He sees no way out. What's interesting is the response of the Kadosh Baruch Hu. He asks Moses to create what would later become the Sanhedrin, the body of seventy sages, to assist him in carrying out this enormous task of sustaining this people in an unsustainable situation. A people who do not learn, a people who struggle to recognize the greatness of the Kadosh Baruch Hu and struggle to acknowledge that what lies ahead is much better than what they had before.

It's as if the Lord places a hand on Moses' shoulder and advises him on how to proceed. And it's interesting because the commentators say that the Kadosh Baruch Hu becomes somewhat of a friend, not just a father, but a friend who is with Moses, advising him on how to lead this people. He does not get angry at Moses' response. He does not get angry at Moses' plea to end his life. No, He advises him. "Free yourself from this burden, free yourself from the yoke in which you are bound with this people, and rely on the seventy sages."

That's what it's about: seeking support from others in moments of difficulty. The first chapter of Pirkei Avot tells us that we need to have a teacher and acquire a friend, to have a friend by our side. It is in these friendships that we will find support. We are not a people of individuals; we are not a people of solitary leaders who carry everything forward. That's why we have a minyan, that's why we have a community, that's why we care about Tikun Olam, about tzedakah, about social justice, so that the world functions properly and we can grow and each one can reach their own promised land and the promised land of the entire people of Israel and the whole world.

Let's do it. Let's open our hearts to someone if we need to. Perhaps one of the best friends we can have is the Kadosh Baruch Hu, whom we can rely on. Perhaps it is someone whom we discover we can trust and ask for help. Maybe they are right beside us, and we didn't realize that we could count on them, him, or her.

Sometimes, it's good to acknowledge that we just can't.

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