Centering Impacted Voices

One of the things I enjoy about writing Divrei Torah (words of Torah) is looking for the ways that words written thousands of years ago connect to what I am experiencing in the world in the present moment. This exercise in connecting my own life to the Torah is very healing and uplifting for me. Right now, anything that is healing and uplifting is very sorely needed. The October 7 attacks on Israel, the Israel Hamas war, and the corresponding increase in antisemitism here at home, have been overwhelming. 

In this week’s Torah portion, God tells Moses and Aaron to go to Pharaoh to demand freedom for the Israelites. Moses tells God that he is not up to the task. Therefore God sends Aaron as Moses mouthpiece and Aaron is the one who asks Pharoah to let the Jewish people go. 

I did not expect that Aaron’s role as Moses’s Prophet in this week’s parshah would offer guidance, and yet it did. 

Aaron’s voice was crucial in the fight to free the Hebrew slaves, despite the fact that Moses was their appointed leader.

Moses, raised in Pharaoh’s family, grew up in privilege. While Moses could feel anger over the treatment of the Hebrew slaves, it was not his experience. 

Aaron, on the other hand, was not raised in Pharaoh’s palace. He was raised as a slave, among a family and community of slaves.

By speaking through Aaron, Moses centered the voices of those with lived experience – the Hebrew slaves – and ultimately achieved their freedom. 

For me, the lesson here is two-fold:

When we work to address a challenge, we need to center the voices of those impacted.

Furthermore, whatever challenge or task we are faced with, we cannot take it on alone.

Listen to the conversation:

On  January 17, 2024, Shalom Bayit, JCRC Bay Area, Elluminate, Jewish Silicon Valley and other sponsoring organizations hosted “(S) heroes on the ground: Israeli leaders of gender based violence programs speak out on their work since October 7th”.

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