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  • Jodi Samuels

First World Problems

Updated: Dec 24, 2021

In this weeks Torah portion we learn about Moses’ rise to be Leader and Teacher of Israel.

The Torah and the commentators emphasize Moses’s ability to empathize with his people. The first act that Moses did as leader was to go out amongst his people to see their suffering firsthand. In addition, Moses gave his eyes and heart, and felt their pain.

Just when we all thought the Covid nightmare was over and life could resume we are reminded of how little control we have over our lives. I was standing in a line for a PCR test for 3 hours in freezing weather in NY. Israel changed travel rules for the US, making it a red country and requiring 7 days of quarantine upon arrival. So many people I know in NY now have Covid. I decided it’s best to reschedule my speaking engagements yet again (I had already been forced to reschedule during my stay cut-short in Egypt when the rules changed to requiring us to quarantine upon our return).

Recently, I have caught myself a few times, joining the string of comments about how life sucks. There is so much frustration and disappointment. While standing in the line for the PCR test in the freezing cold, I passed the time scrolling through the news - you just have to read for 5 minutes to realize just how “First World” our challenges are.

Perhaps we can all learn from Moses. He too had a life full of challenges but he was able to step out of his personal reality, grasping the scope of the challenges of the People of Israel, and devoted his life to helping those in pain by thinking about their pain, feeling it and acting accordingly. That perspective gave Moses the ability to lead the Nation of Israel with empathy and purpose.

Let’s take a page out of Moses’ book by taking a step back, gaining perspective over our personal challenges, and eventually help those around us.


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