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Embracing Change with Courage

This week at KI, our new kitchen floor is starting to be installed! It has been very exciting to see the process of the old becoming new again. Sometime this month, our kitchen floor will be gorgeous, bright, and new. We will begin creating new memories and moments in this space, which already fills our hearts with nourishment.

While this change feels easy and exciting, some changes are more difficult. In this week’s Torah portion, Chukat, Moses loses his sister Miriam. We see the Israelites grappling with the loss of their beloved leader, Miriam, and Moses has his own personal challenges dealing with this loss.

Right after this huge loss, Moses has to deal with us complaining in the desert—thirsty and wishing we’d never left Egypt. In fact, we actually say that we wish we’d rather have died back there. So Moses and Aaron nervously take the matter to God, who instructs them to raise their staff to convene the people, and then order a rock to produce water, which—God says—it will miraculously do. But when everyone had gathered together, Moses suddenly loses his temper and says, “Listen, you rebels, shall we get water for you from this rock?” and then strikes the rock with the staff twice. Water starts flowing out of the rock, enough for all the people and their animals to drink. But there is a problem. Moses lost his temper, and now there are consequences.

We know Moses had difficulty dealing with this loss, as described by several commentaries: Rashi, the renowned medieval Jewish commentator, suggests that Moses’ grief over losing his sister may have contributed to his emotional state and his subsequent reaction. Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, a modern Jewish thinker, delves into the psychological aspect, explaining that Moses’ striking of the rock could be seen as an act of pent-up frustration and sorrow. The loss of Miriam, who was not only his sister but a leader to us. This might have left Moses feeling isolated and overwhelmed, causing him to react impulsively.

These moments of transition and change are not easy, especially following a loss. But they are also essential moments for our personal growth and the evolution of our community. Sometimes all of these moments happen at once. Currently, my in-laws are in the process of moving to Philadelphia and will move into Rydal Park. While this is all so exciting for our family, many decisions need to be made, and emotions are high. My in-laws have been in their house and community for almost 50 years. They have so many friends, so many memories, and while I am excited for this change, I recognize that I need to leave more space for everyone to feel loss, change, and shifting.

As we move forward through these changes, let us embrace them with courage and faith. Let us find strength in our community. And let us always remember that through the challenges of change, we grow, we learn, and we build a future filled with new possibilities.