To truly respect another requires a healthy dose of humility — a misunderstood word, yet an incredibly freeing character trait. To be humble, one should not take credit for their gifts and talents but view them as a gift from G-d. We may be aware of these gifts, yet understand that if someone else has these same gifts and talents, they would be doing a heck of a better job than us.
This is how Moses approached the Jewish people. With care and understanding, wisdom and humility, he was able to strengthen and lead them to the gates of the Promised Land.
Every year this Torah portion is read on the Shabbos before the ninth day of Av, the saddest day of the year, the day that the first and second Holy Temples were destroyed.
It is read during this week, our sages explain, in order to teach us that even in times of difficulties and challenges, in times of darkness and exile, in times of a pandemic and isolation, one is to remain strong knowing that we are being led to the Holy Land.
Last week I sent a text to a friend to wish him a good shabbos. He responded with thanks and sent me a meme that I am essential. I thanked him for the compliment but shared with him that over the last few months I have come to realize that every one of us are essential.
True, the first responders, doctors and nurses are essential. Certainly the maintenance and janitorial staff are essential in keeping us safe and healthy. Educators, teachers, and support staff are all critically essential. And yes, each and everyone of us must not forget that we are all essential. We all have been given a gift from G-d that is unique to us.
While we may be isolated or meeting fewer people than normal, our unique talents have the power to impact those around us. There is a reason why we use the term “raising children.” As parents and adults we are entrusted not only to teach and share our knowledge, but also to “raise” them up. The same is true for everyone we meet; each person enhances and impacts us in their own unique way. This makes us all essential.
While we can do away with many things in life, we cannot do away with people.
Perhaps, this is what Moshe was doing with his long lecture; each word was a nuanced attempt to lift up each person. And with this confidence we are firm and courageous in our belief in the coming of Moshiach. May it be right now. JN
Rabbi Mendy Deitsch is director of Pollack Chabad Center for Jewish Life.