This week, we read from the Torah portion Eikev, with Moses reviewing the events which happened leading up to this point, and continuing his closing address to the Children of Israel. Moses, like many other great leaders of our time (Martin Luther King is a modern-day example), will not be the one to complete the mission and lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. Moses rebukes them for their mistakes, reminding them of their bad choices in building the Golden Calf, listening to the false reports of the spies, and the rebellion of Korach. Within the rebuke, Moses also reminds them of God’s enduring love for them, despite their bad choices.  

 

The Israelites learned that if they obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to God, they will indeed inherit the Land of Israel…a Land flowing with milk and honey. How, you may ask, does this relate to us? Who is God? Where does God live? I’d like to propose the idea that I always come back to, the idea of “B’etzelem Elohim,” that on the sixth day of creation, God breathed life into us and created us in God’s very own image—an extension, or child of God, if you will. I would like to suggest that obeying God’s commandments today also obliges us to partner with God and be active participants in Tikkun Olam (making the world a better place), to take care of each other, and do everything within our power to make our world safe for all its inhabitants.  

 

For us today, this means going the extra mile to ensure that the challenges we are currently facing will be significantly reduced. There is hope. Despite staggering incidents of violence, there are also staggering numbers of people showing kindness, compassion, and a desire to put laws in place which will protect us. The same holds true for women’s reproductive rights. Just the other day, one of my dearest friends called me, crying hysterically, from joy, because the hard work she had done from her home in New York to protect women’s reproductive rights in her home state of Kansas was successful.  

 

Today’s version of the “Land of Milk and Honey” would likely be getting back to some sort of “normalcy” where we did not have to add fear of illness, discrimination, or restrictions on women’s rights to our  “concern curriculum.” But there is hope. So many people around us are very good and courageous. They have the courage, means, and desire to take the necessary steps to run to help in a crisis, to advocate for basic human rights, reproductive rights, and commonsense laws to protect our environment. There is most definitely hope that the good will surpass and flood over the bad.  

It is my deepest prayer that we will be able to come to this Land of Milk and Honey sooner than later. I pray that hearts will be softened and that we will all lead from our hearts, being living examples of how to live in a society where all humans are mindful of the “oneness” of each one of us. May we remember that each individual choice we make has an impact on everyone around us. Shabbat Shalom.