This past Shabbat we have said “Be Strong, Be Strong, Let Us Be Strengthened – חזק, חזק,להתחזק for the Book of בְּמִדְבַּר – Numbers.
This week, we are starting to read the last cycle of the year – the book of Deuteronomy – דְּבָרִים.
For me, this is a momentous Shabbat. My younger daughter is leaving to work around the globe for a whole year. She will merit to see places I’ve dreamt of seeing, like The Old Prague Shul, she will visit Argentina with its abundance of Jewish history, climb Machu Pichu, and see the magic of Kyoto. She will also go to places I would never dare to go to.
This Parshah says:
טז וָאֲצַוֶּה, אֶת-שֹׁפְטֵיכֶם, בָּעֵת הַהִוא, לֵאמֹר: שָׁמֹעַ בֵּין-אֲחֵיכֶם וּשְׁפַטְתֶּם צֶדֶק, בֵּין-אִישׁ וּבֵין-אָחִיו וּבֵין גֵּרוֹ.
|16 And I charged your judges at that time, saying: ‘Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between a man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him.|
Looking at my child who is not observant, but is living her life according to this mitzvah, I know that she will be fair and righteous in her ways on this journey. I am just hoping that the people and circumstances she encounters will be fair and righteous to her.
My daughter left home for college one year earlier than most kids as she graduated a year early. She has lived in three different states after that, most of the time far away from me. I should be immune to worrying by now. And yet, I am worried as never before. I am also very excited for her. As she enters new lands, she will experience the life of a ger – גֵּר, a “stranger” in someone’s midst. However, living in galut –גָּלוּת, aren’t we all strangers?
When we stay close to the place of our dreams, like our pra-fathers did in the plains of Moab, are we dreaming of just comforts, or are we taking on responsibilities that the place demands? Are we ready to live by what justice demands and Gd expects of us? Are we looking forward to welcoming strangers and brothers alike? Are we ready to preach tolerance or practice it?
Today is a sad day for the Jewish people. Again and again, terror seems to win. Yet, we hope, sometimes against all odds, that the real justice will find its place in the Golden City and beyond.
So, all I can say to my child then is חזק, חזק,להתחזק. Be strong, and become even stronger during this journey of yours!
And then, as it says in our Haftarah:
כו וְאָשִׁיבָה שֹׁפְטַיִךְ כְּבָרִאשֹׁנָה, וְיֹעֲצַיִךְ כְּבַתְּחִלָּה; אַחֲרֵי-כֵן, יִקָּרֵא לָךְ עִיר הַצֶּדֶק–קִרְיָה, נֶאֱמָנָה.
|26 And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning; afterward thou shalt be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city.|
|27 Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and they that return of her with righteousness.|