Just Do It !
This week we read the story of the miraculous deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery with the parting of the waters of the Sea of Reeds. The Israelites are trapped, the Egyptian army is advancing on one side and on the other is a sea, there is nowhere to go and they cry out to Moses asking, “did you just bring us here to die?” Moses cries out to God, “God please help us.” God responds that it is not the time for prayer and instructs Moses to hold his staff across the waters and they will part. Moses does so, but according to Midrash, the seas do not part until one man, Nachshon ben Aminadav, steps into the water. He walks forward with the waters reaching ever higher, until they are at his nostrils, threatening his very life, and in that moment, the seas part.
So why create this tale of Nachshon, and why does God not intervene when Moses asks, why require the holding of the staff across the waters? The answer is that in that moment, prayer and words were not enough, what God required was action. God wanted a commitment from Moses and the people, wanted their involvement in their own deliverance. There is a time for prayer but prayer alone is not enough, we need to be a part of the change we want to see in the world and for ourselves.
There is a powerful prayer written by Rabbi Jack Reimer which appears in our prayer book and I would like to share the words with you this Shabbat as inspiration for us to go out into the world and make it the best it can be.
“We cannot only pray to You God to end war for we know that You have made the world in such a way that we must find the path to peace within ourselves and our neighbors.
We cannot only pray to You God to end starvation for You have already given us the resources with which to feed the entire world, if only we would use them wisely.
We cannot only pray to You God to root out prejudice for You have already given us eyes with which to see the good in al people if only we would use them rightly.
We cannot only pray to You God to end despair for You have given us the power to clear away the slums, to give hope, if only we would use the power justly…
We therefore pray to You instead God for strength, determination and willpower to do instead of only to pray, to become instead of merely to wish.”
Rabbi Jack Reimer
Now, as we walk into this new secular year, may it be a year of action, of changing the world and making it a better place.