Between the Lines—Ki Tetzei

Weekly Midrash Learning with Rabbi Abigail Treu

Deuteronomy Rabbah 6:13

 

דברים רבה פרשה ו

יג ד"א זכור כיון שראה משה מה הגיע לאחותו התחיל צווח ומתפלל עליה בכל לבו ונפשו (במדבר י"ב) אל נא רפא נא לה רבנן אמרי אמר משה רבש"ע כבר עשית אותי רופא אם אתה מרפא אותה הרי מוטב ואם לאו מרפא אני אותה.

"Remember what the Lord your God did to Miriam on the journey after you left Egypt" (Deut. 24:9). When Moses saw what befell his sister, he began to cry out and pray with all his heart and soul on her behalf, "Heal her now, O God, I beseech You!" (Num. 12:13). The Rabbis say: Moses said, "Master of the Universe, already long ago You granted me the power of healing. If you will heal her, all is well; but if not, I will heal her."

The suffering of those we love stays with us and affects us deeply, years after the fact; in Deuteronomy, Moses finds himself thinking about his deceased sister's illness and the pain he felt at her suffering many years prior, and now we find ourselves thinking about the events of 9/11 and recalling the pain we felt a decade ago.

How typically human for Moses to beg God for help at the time of his suffering; and how typically Jewish for Moses to turn inward at a certain point, to look to see what he personally could do to help. In the days and weeks that followed 9/11, one of the overwhelming effects was the outpouring of kindness and compassion from strangers and loved ones to those directly affected by the attacks. Indeed the decade that has passed has seen a remarkable transformation of our nation into one whose experience of suffering has engendered a different kind of sensibility and sensitivity. We have internalized and continue to work on internalizing that one of the lessons of 9/11 is that of tikkun 'olam, the need for each of us to be healers in God's broken world.