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Better Together

At the start of week’s Torah portion, Shoftim, we learn a lesson that is at the heart of the Jewish experience. I also believe it is as relevant and important as ever.

As the portion opens, we read that, in every generation, we should ‘appoint magistrates and officials for your tribes, in all the settlement that the Eternal your God is giving you’ (Deut 16:18). While ostensibly this is a commandment related to governance, I see it more as a reminder that we cannot do it all alone. Many chapters earlier, Moses first learned this valuable lesson from his own father-in-law, Yitro, who advised him to share both the burden and the beauty of leadership with others. Here we see once more that Moses cannot head the Jewish people alone; rather God will have Moses turn to a team of identified helpers as the community navigates the unforgiving wilderness. It would appear that the Torah comes back to this important lesson precisely because it’s so difficult to internalize, even for Moses.

We get it. Delegating is hard. Asking for help is hard. Speaking out from a place of humility is extremely hard. If Moses, legendary teacher, role model, and guide of our people required assistance throughout his life, then no doubt we do as well. We remember too that Moses did not approach Pharaoh alone, but rather brought Aaron with him for support. We too, while many centuries removed from our Israelite ancestors, are also in a wilderness of sorts. It is the wilderness of late summer 2022. We carry so much on our shoulders: School is about to start, the busy schedules are about to resume, the looming stress of the year looms over us, the noise out of Washington is deafening, our planet is in disarray, war and civil unrest uproot scores of communities. The list goes on. 

As Moses needed help, so do we. You have a community that is ready to help you, heal you, and be there for you in your moments of joy and sorrow. As we enter this new year together, we must remember that to be part of a kehillah kedoshah, a sacred community, is to know that we are never alone. Your synagogue family is ready to pursue justice with you, learn with you, pray with you, cry with you, and experience life’s milestones with you. I am always ready to sit with you, hear you, and talk. We are a multigenerational mosaic, each one of us bringing something unique and colorful to this sacred congregation. We are indeed, in so many ways, better together. 

Wishing you health and happiness, laughter and love.