If It Hurts Scream! Someone May Hear You…
During the last ten years I met many many friends and colleagues struggling with this, emotionally flooded. Beautiful, brilliant and talented people becoming closed, passing hard times. And most of them not asking for help and therefore not receiving what is required in order to continue, to get over it. One of the things which worry me the most is the difficulty and pain of silence. Avoiding the shout – “help!”.
I would like to invite you to briefly read the below 6 verses of Numbers, chapter 11. Before you start, I’ll note that the context is Moshe (Moses) having to deal with a row of tasks which are not giving him an easy time in life…
11 And Moses said unto the LORD: ‘Wherefore hast Thou dealt ill with Thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favour in Thy sight, that Thou layest the burden of all this people upon me?
12 Have I conceived all this people? have I brought them forth, that Thou shouldest say unto me: Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing-father carrieth the sucking child, unto the land which Thou didst swear unto their fathers?
13 Whence should I have flesh to give unto all this people? for they trouble me with their weeping, saying: Give us flesh, that we may eat.
14 I am not able to bear all this people myself alone, because it is too heavy for me.
15 And if Thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray Thee, out of hand, if I have found favour in Thy sight; and let me not look upon my wretchedness.’
So Moses is emotionally flooded – this, in my opinion, is the clearest modern way to describe what’s going on with him. He has some issues with his family, we can see as the portion develops problems forming between his siblings and wife. On top of that he’s receiving constant hard demands from the People, who are tired, angry, and ironically miss the land of Egypt. One can guess that his position as a leader must also by itself be quite stressful. So he breaks down. It’s impossible to ignore his anguish, pain and tiredness. Moses turns to God, screaming this.
And let’s keep reading – here is God’s answer:
16 And the LORD said unto Moses: ‘Gather unto Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tent of meeting, that they may stand there with thee.
17 And I will come down and speak with thee there; and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.
It’s not my goal to analyze how God can function as a psychoanalyst, but His attitude expresses understanding, empathy and support. God is hugging Moses right now. And one beautiful thing about God’s hug is that He maintains it through the presence of people; people for whom He instructs Moses to ask. This is actually one of his names – Hamakom, the Place. When I read this name of God I read: the community, your environment, your circle of support. God tells Moses “you don’t need to stand alone dealing with this anymore!”. Similarly to our father Abraham’s word to God: “Hineni” – “I’m here for you” – now it is God saying to Moses “Hineni”.
Parashat Behaalotecha is full of contents. I wish to share with you why the choice of this specific part is so important to me.
We live in the 21st century. One of the most common diseases of this century is depression. During the last ten years I met many many friends and colleagues struggling with this, emotionally flooded. Beautiful, brilliant and talented people becoming closed, passing hard times. And most of them not asking for help and therefore not receiving what is required in order to continue, to get over it. One of the things which worry me the most is the difficulty and pain of silence. Avoiding the shout of help. This is why to me Moses’s situation is an important example; If Moses, the great, the hero, can stand in front of God and shout – I’m in pain, it’s difficult, I can’t do it anymore, I need help! – then so can you.
But even more important is God’s answer. God says: I’m not the address (and here read “me” to be the person’s internal conversation). The address is your circle of support, your family, psychoanalyst, the community, friends. There, among the people, is where you’ll also find God. But this is the interaction in which you can find the compassion and the support that will make it possible to move on.
This Parashah reveals a circle. A circle of distress and of support. The distress of a man who can break the limits of his shyness and say I need help, it’s difficult; the support of his surrounding, which is revealed as a result of the appearance of this saying.
So look to your sides, and look inside; when you’re in need say I need – recognize and respect your humanity. And always be aware and listening to the calls of your dear ones. Discover the divine by being able to say to the one in need “Hineni”. (I am here for you!)