By Gina Junger
Member of “Shivtei Yisrael” community in Ra’anana
Everyone has their breaking point; when they feel they just can’t handle the task they are given. Even Moshe Rabeinu! In this week’s parsha when the Jewish people had a “craving” for meat Moshe complained to Hashem,”From where do I have meat to give to these crying people?” Moshe compared himself to a nursemaid who carries a child (the Jewish people) in her arms. From the recent complaining of the people it sounds like Moshe had to be more of a “babysitter” than a spiritual leader. Moshe finally announced that he couldn’t go on alone. “I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me
Hashem’s response to Moshe is very interesting. He doesn’t say, יהיה בסדר – it will be fine. He says “Bring Me 70 men from Israel known to you as elders and officers of the people. Take them to the tent of meeting and have them stand there with you. Then I will come down and speak with you there. I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you bear the burden of the people, so that you do not have to bear it by yourself.” Hashem recognized that even if Moshe was perfectly capable of leading on his own, as soon as he felt that he could not go on, then Hashem needed to provide for Moshe support. The seventy elders didn’t have any power that Moshe did not have .In fact, their leadership came from “the “ruach” that was upon Moshe.
Rashi uses the parable of the candle. Moshe is the lit candle; the 70 Elders, who until now have not “been lit”, will now have their wicks kindled by Moshe’s candle. However, this in no way lessens “the light of Moshe’s candle.” These 70 elders seem to be put in place to give emotional support to Moshe. We are all familiar with the expression in English “two heads are better than one”. The meaning of “heads” is minds and it means that two people can often solve a problem better than one person. But in Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) Shlomo HaMelech expresses this idea differently. “Two are better than one, since they have good reward for their toil .For if they fall, one will lift up his friend…“
The reason that “two are better than one” says Shlomo HaMelech, is that one can be there for the other when one falls down and “pick him up” both physically and emotionally. Bill Withers sang “You just call on me brother, when you need a hand. We all need somebody to lean on”.
If even Moshe needed someone to “lean on” then let’s try to offer support to those around us before they reach their breaking point.