These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

[PCJE Dvar Torah] Panic Sets In

Posted on January 9, 2015 by Elana Shilling

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Elana ShillingAs I write this D’var Torah, it is nearly noon on Wednesday January 7th. A storm is coming…

Pardes and the rest of Jerusalem educational institutions are closed. The roads in and out of Jerusalem have been closed in anticipation of motorists getting stuck. Emergency vehicles are on standby as are 150 snowplows.

As for myself, I began preparations on Monday, purchasing food, candles and even challah and wine for Shabbat. According to several news sources, many Jerusalemites behaved similarly, purchasing triple the amount of food that they would usually buy in one grocery store trip. The city is prepared. I am prepared. Whatever amount of snow comes, we are ready. But is the city of Jerusalem really being strategic by taking necessary precautions or is the “blizzard of 2015” nothing more than widespread, unnecessary panic?

For some insight, I turn to the parshah. This week we begin the story of Moshe and the enslaved B’nei Yisrael. B’nei Yisrael is forced to do hard labour at the hands of Pharaoh. Soon after Pharaoh’s decree to kill the baby boys, Moshe is born, hidden and saved. He grows up to kill an Egyptian, and runs away to Midyan where he gets hitched, sees a burning bush, talks to G-d and goes back to Egypt to yell at Pharaoh with a passionate “LET MY PEOPLE GO!”

Of course the journey doesn’t go quite as smoothly as my lovely summary makes it seem. Take the scene at the burning bush: 

G-d tells Moshe to, “Take my people, the children of Israel out of Egypt”.

Moshe responds: “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should take the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

An odd response to a request from G-d…certainly not the kind of thing Avraham would say…

But the dialogue doesn’t end there.

Moshe asks G-d by what name he should call him when speaking to B’nei Yisrael. He wonders how B’nei Yisrael will believe him, and wonders how he will overcome his speech impediment…

At the end of the conversation, Moshe finally reveals his true feelings and we understand the reason behind all the questions and concerns:

“Please G-d send another!” He cries.

Suddenly, everything is clear. Moshe doesn’t want to go. Perhaps he doesn’t believe in the mission, perhaps he doesn’t believe it’ll work.

Whatever the reason, it seems that Moshe is panicking.

And this type of panic is DEFINITELY unnecessary. I mean is it not G-D who is telling him to go?! G-d is ensuring him that all will be ok. Moshe has no reason to ask so many questions when he has G-d on his side!

The panic isn’t necessary.

So let us return back to the storm, back to the current Jerusalem panic. Are we panicking without reason like Moshe at the burning bush?

And if so, is that such a bad thing? In the Torah, Moshe doesn’t get rebuked for his panicky episode (at least not explicitly) and perhaps we could argue that his panic lead Moshe feeling prepared enough to handle what would come next

Perhaps a little panic isn’t so bad even if it isn’t really necessary.

Still, I’m going to try to panic a little less than I have been. I plan to enjoy the storm and take the obstacles as they come.

Happy Snowstorm and Shabbat Shalom!