The Power of Compassion

Shabbat Parashat Ekev
Shabbat Nachamu
July 27, 2013 – 20 Av 5773

The Power of Compassion

It’s no wonder we lose patience sometimes…Even God loses patience and needs reminders of God’s commitment to our people.

How many times did the Israelites test God’s loyalty and compassion in the desert? They complained. They saw great miracles and yet they built a golden calf. They even “voted” not to enter the promised Land when the 10 spies brought back a frightening report.

In our weekly Torah portion, Ekev, Moses sums it up by saying to the people: “As long as I have known you, you have been defiant toward the Lord!” (Deuteronomy 9:24). Yet, Moses, never ceased being an advocate for our people.

In our Parsha, Moses recalls that when God lost patience with our people, Moses prayed to God on their behalf, saying: “…they are Your very own people, whom You freed with Your great might and Your outstretched arm.” (Deuteronomy 9:29).

Of course, this argument might have angered God even more and God might have responded to Moses, saying: “How ungrateful are the Israelites, after all that I did for them?!” But, in the end, Moses succeeded in calming God’s anger by making it clear to God that Moses wasn’t giving up on our people!

Moses demonstrated patience, humility and loyalty in the face of the difficult challenges he was presented.

In our Parsha, God says to our people: “And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God demand of you? Only this: to revere the Lord you God, to walk only in His paths, to love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all of your heart and soul…For the Lord you God is God supreme and Lord supreme, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who…upholds the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and befriends the stranger, providing him with food and clothing. You too must befriend the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 10:12-19)

What’s the message of these verses?

Just as God lost patience with our ancestors in the desert, we too might lose patience with those around us, especially when they do not live up to our expectations. But if we read these verses carefully, we see that God’s power, which is far greater than our own, is reflected, not in God’s anger or impatience, but in God’s compassionate love and care for those who are in need. So, too, our own power, inasmuch as we gain power in this world, would be best reflected by deeds of loving kindness and by genuine concern and care for those who are in need.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror