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Story: Parshat Naso I, 5/29/20

05/31/2020 01:39:21 PM


Rabbi Charlie

This week’s Torah portion is about groups of Levites that have the responsibility to care for the sacred items of our people – The Tabernacle, the Ark, the Alter – everything used in sacrificial worship. Sometimes, depending on who we listen to, such responsibilities, even important responsibilities, can start to feel like a burden. This is a story that might to help lighten some of the load.

Picture this… Non-descript time, non-descript desert… A man and his daughter are leading their camel as they travel. They come across a stranger. She expresses surprise – “You’ve got this big, strong animal – why are you both walking? You’re going to run out of water.” The father and daughter talk it over. It is a good point, so Dad gets on the camel.

After a few miles, they come across another stranger who can’t believe that the father is riding the camel while his daughter is forced to walk. The daughter acknowledges that she could use a break, so they switch places.

A few more miles through the desert, they meet another stranger. He scolds the daughter for making her poor old father walk while she rides. After he departs they look at each other and shrug their shoulders… There’s plenty of room for both of them to ride, so they both climb atop the camel.

They travel on until they come upon a fourth stranger. Believe it or not, this one also has an issue. She berates them for putting such a heavy burden on the poor animal. “Camels aren’t machines,” she exclaims, walking away, shaking her head.

At that point, the daughter turns to her father and says, “Well, Dad, it looks like we’re going to have to carry the camel, but I’m sure the next person we meet won’t be satisfied with that either.”

Based on “Pleasing All the World” from Beatrice Silverman Weinreich’s Yiddish Folktales.

We all have burdens that we must bear. Some are physical, some are emotional, some are spiritual. Among the heaviest burdens can be other people’s judgments and expectations – or even our own. Setting those aside can relieve us from all the “shoulds,” so we can take more responsibility for our actions. It reminds us to get out of our head and leave behind some of the self-doubt so we can live in the moment. Easing the burden of expectations makes things simpler and helps us avoid constantly responding to what others think.

Take advantage of the time to reflect on who we are, our values, our community, our nation, our lives. We don’t want to end up carrying the camel. We do want to cross the desert. We can shed some of the burdens that are weighing us down. Shabbat Shalom!

Mon, January 25 2021 12 Sh'vat 5781