This week’s Torah portion, Va’etchanan, details Moses’ plea to G-d to enter the holy land. G-d banned Moses from entering the land following his hitting of the rock instead of speaking to the rock, as instructed. After hearing that he will be unable to bring his people into the land of Israel, Moses blames this on his people because he felt that the reason he failed to follow the order was because of them. This year, we as a people have had to fight some harsh truths during the rise of the Covid-19 pandemic. Similar to Moses, we have all had to make sacrifices and face denials that we did not expect.
Summer 2020 promised to drive us to Wisconsin for camp, fly us to Florida for internships, and transport us to sound stages for late night shows—summer 2020 promised to fill our lives with adventure. Fall 2020 promised senior year shenanigans and junior year status—fall 2020 promised normalcy. Covid-19 promised novelty. Just as G-d denied Moses entry into the promised land, Covid-19 denied us from our conventional plans.
Covid-19 disrupted everyone’s lives. Everything we expected the summer and fall to entail suddenly collapsed. Unlike Moses’ story, however, we have made a new oasis for ourselves during the pandemic—we developed a virtual lifestyle with an outdoor focus.
Computer programming replaced BBYO programming on day one of the quarantine. Though Covid-19 forced us to stay six feet apart from the friends closest to us, it brought us closer to the communities farthest from us—those places cities away, states away, countries away, even oceans away. Please say “bonjour” to our French friends, “bienvenidos” to our Spanish guests, and “zdravo” to our Serbian associates. (Pro tip: learn how to say goodbye, too!) Online programming proved to be accessible programming, uniting cultures in shared causes, BBYO and otherwise.
Not only did we learn about other regions, but we explored our own backyards. That trip to Georgia for camp? Updated to include a lakehouse suitable for half the camp to come and visit (staggered and distanced, of course!). Those Florida beaches? Enter one of the largest urban parks in America, replete with impromptu concerts and frisbee with friends. How about the senior shenanigans and junior status? Welcome to 20 extra days to work on college applications, and a free pass to wear shorts and tank tops to (virtual) school. Covid-19 might paint tomorrow in uncertainty, but we are sure to make the best of today.
Another thing we have learned is to accept responsibility and the reality of a situation. In the Torah portion, Moses is quick to blame his people for G-d’s decision to keep him out of Israel. Even though it seems that the Israelites were in the wrong, it is important to think about what Moses could have done to prevent G-d from keeping him out. This translates directly to us in the pandemic as we are sometimes quick to blame other people for the spread of the Coronavirus. Are you doing your part to slow the spread? Are you advocating for masks and social distancing? Or are you not as careful as you could be and instead prefer to blame others for their lax behavior?
Let us learn from Moses to accept responsibility and understand the consequences of our actions, for only then will we deserve to enter all the lands that we desire.
Delta Sh’lichim, Lily Roberts and Asher Rice
Read commentary on this week's Parsha from BBYO teens around the world.
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