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  • Hillels of Georgia

Caris Weilenmann - 6/12/2020

Hi Everyone! Shabbat Shalom!

For those of you who don’t know me I’m Caris and I’m a rising junior and the incoming Treasurer at Hillel.This weeks’ parsha is Behaalotecha and quite a lot happens. 

In Behaalotecha Moses is given directions for the design of the menorah for the Tent of Meeting and the Levites are appointed to serves as assistants under Aaron and his sons. Additionally, directions are given for a second Passover for people unable to observe the first one. Then the Israelites leave Sinai, setting out in a set tribal order and following the direction of G-d, his presence being shown by a cloud and fire. The Israelites complain about there being a lack of meat despite having many vegetables. So, then G-d provides meat in abundance and strikes them with a severe plague as punishment for their complaining. Lastly in this weeks’ portion, Miriam and Aaron speak out against Moses because of his marriage and Miriam is struck with leprosy as punishment. The Israelites wait until her recovery before moving on in their journey. 

There were lots of topics that this weeks’ parsha covered and a few different ones really stood out to me. The one I am going to focus on is Israelite kvetching. For those of you unfamiliar with the Yiddish word kvetch, it means to complain, and it’s something the Israelites do a great bit in this portion. What are they complaining about? Food. Moses cries out to G-d, “Kill me rather, I beg you, and let me see no more of my wretchedness,” to which g-d replies that he accepts the Israelites challenge by saying: “The Eternal will give you meat and you shall eat. You shall eat not one day, not two, not even five days or ten or twenty, but a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils . .” Moses’ reply, “Could enough flocks and herds be slaughtered to suffice them?” This response has left a great debate amongst our ancestors. Rabbi Akiva states that Moses was despondent and couldn’t image that G-d could be capable of providing such abundance of food while Rabbi Shimon ben Eleazar thought Moses feared how the Israelites would respond if G-d made the impossible possible. 

While I can see that today we can often find ourselves reflected in Rabbi Akiva’s view where we live in the present and can’t visualize an abundant future, take some time to give Rabbi Shimon’s view a chance. Think about the possibilities on the horizon. For example, we are headed back to campus this fall which has many positive aspects! I have seen many people with Rabbi Akiva’s view, seeing the negative that they may lose a perfect schedule, but think about Rabbi Shimon’s viewpoint, it is an opportunity to design a newschedule given our new normal, plus there’s the added bonus of being back in Atlanta with friends! I can’t wait to move into my apartment with friends and catch up after what will have been over 6 months! 

Take time to acknowledge the downsides of this global pandemic that has thrown our world upside down, but let the positives be the things that motivate you to wake up every morning excited for what’s to come, knowing that even though you might not see it yet, something is waiting for you just over the horizon. 

I hope you have an amazing rest of your Friday and thank you for coming to this weeks’ D’var Torah. Shabbat Shalom!

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