Friday, January 21, 2011

It Takes Two

Parshat Yitro
16 Shvat, 5771
January 21st, 2011

When you walk into a synagogue during the Torah reading, you will always see multiple people crowding around the bimah. This is not, as most would suppose, only about correcting the reader. Rather, says the Shulhan Arukh, “since Torah was given through a mediator (Moses), so too do we use a mediator to read Torah.”*

Basically, the giving of Torah (coming to you this week at shul) wasn’t a solo act. It was, rather, a duet.

We have a weakness for solo leaders: the hero alone, the one who stands against many. We are all, always, waiting for a messiah, and when we find a likely candidate for the post, we’ll often load our deepest expectations onto that one person. And then we wait for our dreams to come true, or be disappointed.

But that is not the model that Torah and life experience present us: God and Moses gave Torah, Moses and Aaron led the people, Abraham and Sara created us, Esther and Mordehai saved us. The most successful, the most effective, the most creative and vibrant of our ventures are developed in partnership. “Havruta o mituta,”** teaches the Talmud, “partnership or death.”  Redemption comes in twos.

*Shulhan Arukh, Orah Hayyim 141:4. The original source of this quote Talmud Yerushalmi, Masekhet Megillah 74d
** Talmud, Masekhet Taanit 23a

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