- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On May 28, 2021
- 0 Comments
Welcome to Shabbat Awakenings, a weekly reflection as we make our way toward Shabbat.
We enter the depth of despair this week in our Torah portion. The former slaves worried about what they would eat in the endless wilderness before them. They wept as they reminisced about the bounty of food they consumed as slaves in Egypt. Hunger and nostalgia can create such concocted realities. Moses felt their burden and cried out to God.
לֹֽא־אוּכַ֤ל אָנֹכִי֙ לְבַדִּ֔י לָשֵׂ֖את אֶת־כׇּל־הָעָ֣ם הַזֶּ֑ה כִּ֥י כָבֵ֖ד מִמֶּֽנִּי׃
I cannot carry all this people by myself, for it is too much for me. (Numbers 11:14)
His language revealed his lonely circumstance through the Hebrew word, Anochi-אָנֹכִי֙, referred to as the “emphatic I”. The patriarch, Jacob, awoke from his dream of the angels ascending and descending on the ladder and responded, God is in this place and I, I did not, אָנֹכִי֙, know it. Moses, though the elect of God, emphasized himself and felt the burden on him alone.
Three verses later, God offered a solution.
וְיָרַדְתִּ֗י וְדִבַּרְתִּ֣י עִמְּךָ֮ שָׁם֒ וְאָצַלְתִּ֗י מִן־הָר֛וּחַ אֲשֶׁ֥ר עָלֶ֖יךָ וְשַׂמְתִּ֣י עֲלֵיהֶ֑ם וְנָשְׂא֤וּ אִתְּךָ֙ בְּמַשָּׂ֣א הָעָ֔ם וְלֹא־תִשָּׂ֥א אַתָּ֖ה לְבַדֶּֽךָ׃
I will come down and speak with you there, and I will draw upon the spirit that is on you and put it upon [the seventy elders]; they shall share the burden of the people with you, and you shall not bear it alone. (11:17)
We don’t know exactly what God said to Moses though many commentators and midrashim have their own ideas. What we can draw from this response is the power of others to share in the burden that may not be their own.
I have thought about this episode from our weekly portion as the reports of antisemitism grow stronger and more prevalent not just in Europe but on our own streets.
- When diners at a restaurant are interrupted with the question, “Who is Jewish?” by trouble makers intent on causing harm;
- When a young man is brutally beaten because he is wearing a kipah;
- When social media is filled with rants filled with hate and despicable images against Jews,
It is time to express the emphatic I, or more importantly, an emphatic–we cannot carry and respond to all this hate by ourselves. We need help from others. As Deborah Lipstadt has noted, antisemitism does not belong in Jewish Studies department at universities. It belongs in every course about history of humanity’s biased and hateful behaviors.
The divine force that spoke to Moses and drew out the spirit on him so that others could share the burden is a power we have as well. It is time to connect with our friends and neighbors and to draw out their ability to speak out and speak up against antisemitism. Together with our friends and neighbors, we have raised our voices for justice and righteousness. I invite us to ask for help and to invite them to reach out to their networks and religious leaders. We will never combat antisemitism or racism or sexism or other acts of bias and hatred alone. We are much stronger when the force for good brings us together. No one should bear it alone. Not Moses. Not the Jewish People. Not anyone.
- Join us for Qabbalat Shabbat at 6:00 p.m. as we welcome guest artist Elana Arian to our sanctuary. We can pray together HERE on the Temple Israel website, or HERE on Zoom, or even HERE on TI’s Facebook page. Or, just find it all on the website www.tisrael.org/TogetherWithTI.
- Tot Rock Shabbat gathers HERE at 5:00 p.m.
- Torah Study will begin at 9:00 a.m. To join the conversation interactively, access Zoom HERE. You can also watch HERE on Temple Israel’s website or HERE on TI’s Facebook page.
- Register here for Thank Goodness It’s Shabbat at 10:00 a.m.
- Join the Clergy for Havdalah at 8:00 p.m. HERE.