Culture, Politics, Religion

Video Vort: Workin' For The Jews Blues

This week’s parsha, Ki Sisa, is most famous for the golden calf (Ex 32:1-6). In the tradition of saying what I won’t be talking about in this vort, that’s it. I’m going to focus instead on Moishe, who was busy up on the mountain, talking with G!d, while the Israelites were losing faith and emulating their previous leader, the Egyptians.
Poor Moishe. He was burdened with being a leader, convincing a people to obey foreign customs and laws. He was navigating a tough space, not just with the Israelites, but with G!d. Yes, he wanted to do whatever this omnipotent power told him. But as we see in this week’s parsha, he also carefully negotiated on behalf of the Israelites, imploring G!d not to destroy the nation (Ex 32:7-10), but instead remember the promise to the forefathers to make our people as numerous as the stars (Ex 32:13-14). G!d agrees to spare the Israelites, Moishe returns to the camp at the base of the mountain, and punishes the Israelites: he smashes the tablets (the commandments), destroys the golden calf, and had some of the Israelites killed. Wow. The Israelites he just pleaded to have G!d spare, he turns around and punishes.
And this, I think, is where I’ll stop. This image of a frustrated leader who loves his job, who believes in the work he’s doing with the Jews, but still has a headache at the end of the day. Many of us who work in the Jewish world understand the frustrations, the tension between believing in what we’re doing and having to deal with the mishegaas of our organisation’s board, funders, etc.
Ok, so maybe this vort was all just an excuse to share with you, dear Jewschool readers, the glory that is “Workin’ For The Jews Blues,” by the lovely Rabbi Rim. (His musical address to his shul’s annual board meeting in 2007.) Enjoy!

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