D’var Torah: Bil Zarch (Yitro)

What happens in parshat Yitro is kind of a big deal. The Israelites hear directly from God, a very unusual occurrence. Normally when there is communication with God it has been through intermediaries – be it plagues, angels, or some other way – God doesn’t have the habit of speaking to the Jewish people without some kind of intervention. Can you imagine the scene once they hear that God is going to be talking directly to them? In my mind, I picture jitters of all types, some frayed nerves, a few lost tempers, and a bunch of wild accusations about what is actually going to happen when God speaks.

They prepare for this interaction and what happens? They freak out. They can’t handle the thought of it. They speak to Moshe and say, “You speak to us, and we will hear, but not let God speak to us, lest we die.” (20:16). Could it be that they psyched themselves out for what was going to happen? (I can relate to that.) Or was it that they felt they didn’t have an equal say on how the relationship was going to transpire? (I can see that as well.)

If we look at what is happening to our school today, can we find any correlations?  There are a range of emotions, a tinge of nervousness, and inevitably there may be some things we just won’t know at this moment. Schechter is at a pivotal moment. We are going to be one school under one roof. Our culture is about to be tested in so many ways. There are going to be so many inspirational things that are going to transpire over the coming weeks, months and years. How lucky are our children to be the benefactors of this bold move.

The question is how will we as the adults embrace the change? I believe it is an opportunity that we don’t even know of all of the positive implications yet. If we go back to that scene with the Israelites, I imagine there was a lot of debate on how to handle this interaction with God. In the end, we know how that turned out!

Bil Zarch, Director of Camp Yavneh, Schechter Parent