“Shalom Sivan, my aunt Heinke Gilad from Kibbutz Dafna just turned 110 years old. She arrived at the kibbutz at the age of 22 and was a founding member. She has been there ever since. She worked for years with the kibbutz children. She also worked as a cook and in the kibbutz shoe factory. Only at the age of 97 did she retire.
“Apparently, she is the oldest woman in Israel. So we came to celebrate with her, with the aunt who always fascinated us with stories about the pioneers, the different waves of immigration, and the beginning of modern settlement in our land. We would hear her talk in first person about everything we read in books. On her birthday, we noticed that she was a little tired. So when we felt that talking was tiring her out, we decided to sing for her in her honor. She was so happy to sing: ‘Hinei ma tov u’ma naim,’ ‘Shuru habitu ur’u,’ and also ‘Oseh shalom bimromav.’ She sang with enthusiasm, with her special smile, and spread optimism and joy all around.
I remember that on her 108th birthday, we asked her how she merited to live such a long life. She said that she did not know, but she loves life, loves people, and sees everything in a positive light. I can testify that this is true and that everyone around her is infected with her positivity. She never argues with anyone, and still sees through the eyes of a curious girl who is amazed by everything, despite all the crises she has known.
Therefore, for us, she is not just an ‘item’ in a news story. She is simply the most loving and most joyful woman in Israel. As we approach Tisha B’Av, we speak about the importance of gratuitous love. It turns out that to live with such love does pay off in a most significant way.”
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Mission and Transition
A mother wrote me that her son received a bad report card. Now, during summer vacation, she was already feeling pressure about the coming school year. But then she noticed an optimistic item in this week’s Torah portion that was easy to miss:
In his first meeting with G-d, Moshe Rabbeinu says, “I am not a man of words.” (Exodus 4:10). He then adds, “I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” Yet later the book of Deuteronomy begins: “These are the words that Moshe spoke to all of Israel.” Deuteronomy is composed entirely of wonderful speeches by Moshe Rabbeinu. He leaves us his will, a spiritual inheritance, his impressive “I believe” speech.
So what happened here? How did we transition from “I am not a man of words” to “These are the words that Moshe spoke”? Our sages explain: Moshe receives a mission and accepts a responsible role. He must bring the people out of Egypt, teach them Torah, and bring them to the Land of Israel.
When we have a purpose, a goal, and a vision – it’s possible to overcome many difficulties, including dire diagnoses and mistaken ideas about ourselves. The Torah is not concerned with superheroes. Instead, it wishes to teach us that it is precisely a stuttering Moshe who said, “I am not a man of words” who could be transformed into someone whose words we would encounter daily, for thousands of years.
(translation by Yehoshua Siskin)