Chol HaMo-eid Sukkot recounts the story of the Golden Calf, the destruction of the tablets, and Moses’ interceding on behalf of the Jewish people for reconciliation with God.
The portion makes it clear that Moses is an ordinary human with ordinary faults. He is noted to be easily angered, and when pressured with the responsibilities of leading, he requests to see God to verify Their existence. Upon learning that he cannot see God, he accepts God’s commitment to shield him and allows himself to feel God’s presence.
During this past year and a half, we also have had to believe and trust things we can’t always see. We have had to put trust in medical professionals and scientists who are working tirelessly to save lives. Like Moses, we took shelter and waited for the hand of God to be presented to us through medical discoveries. Our faith kept us strong and brought us together to support one another.
Moses shows us that we do not have to be perfect to lead. To lead, we simply need to listen to the voices of our community members and put faith in our leaders and in science. It is important to identify and follow the community leaders that have our best interests at heart. Being unsure, nervous, angry, or doubtful does not preclude you from leadership. It makes us ordinary humans. By sharing our feelings, concerns, and hopes, we can work together to achieve a brighter, safer future.
We have all been burdened by fear, anxiety, and uncertainty over the past months. These emotions have spilled into every aspect of our lives, especially our personal relationships. Through vulnerability and transparency, we find that we are all feeling the same emotions no matter where our opinions on the issues rest. Through this clarity, we can begin to reconcile.
There have been doubts and worries, and these continue with the surge of the variant viruses. Keeping our faith in the Almighty is shown through the support of our community and the professionals on the frontlines. Belief or trust? I say both. I believe in God, and I trust They will be there for our protection, survival, and prosperity.
Believing can be difficult. We strive to have concrete evidence to make decisions in our daily lives, especially ones that impact our families and communities. During this challenging time, we are bombarded with information on the best ways to protect ourselves and our loved ones. We have had to make difficult decisions, many times with the uncomfortable sense of uncertainty and doubt.
Science is a concrete form of knowledge, and we must be able to receive the information with an open heart and an open mind. We need to trust the professionals who are committed to scientific study and helping their communities. We must have faith in the evidence and not follow the ill-guided tenets of social media outlets. We must do our best to stop seeing all issues as black and white, polarizing our communities. Trust is mandatory.
As Moses was chosen to lead and influence, we have the opportunity to do the same. Like Moses, we are human and have our faults, but we need to stay strong in our beliefs and trust God. We must put ourselves in another’s shoes to lead, support, and listen.
Diana Mann is a member of the WRJ North American Board. She is also a member of Congregation Gates of Prayer in Metairie, LA.