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Parashat Yitro

Hi, I am Eitan Meyerowitz and I am the new Head of Jewish Life at Hineni for 2018. Last year while I was on Hineni Shnat, Benji Prawer kept the parents, madrichim and chanichim updated on weekly Parsha ideas and Shabbat times. I plan to continue the tradition this year while working on other projects to bring Jewish life and learning directly to our wonderful chanichim.

This week’s parasha is Yitro, which actually happens to be my bar mitzvah portion, so it seems fitting that this is the parasha I begin my weekly emails on.

This year I want to look at how Judaism and its text are as relevant today as they were at Mount Sinai. When reading through “Rabbi Frand on the Parasha” I found a message that is extremely pertinent to our fast-paced-full-schedule lives.

Yitro, a new member of the community, a relation of Tzipora's (Moshe’s wife), enters Bnei Yisrael’s desert camp and sees a long line sprawling from Moshe’s tent, where the Isralites are waiting to ask him questions (the olden day version of whatsapping your rabbi a sheila). He approaches Moshe, criticising the system, saying;

נָבֹ֣ל תִּבֹּ֔ל גַּם־אַתָּ֕ה גַּם־הָעָ֥ם הַזֶּ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר עִמָּ֑ךְ כִּֽי־כָבֵ֤ד מִמְּךָ֙ הַדָּבָ֔ר לֹא־תוּכַ֥ל עֲשֹׂ֖הוּ לְבַדֶּֽךָ׃

You will surely wear yourself out, and these people as well. For the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.

The story develops in a way that reflects divine acceptance of Yitro’s criticism; indicating that burnout must be worthy of discussion. It is an altruistic desire to constantly want to help the people around us, but it is dangerous if we stretch this desire to our limits. We often ask ourselves “Where do I draw the line between helping others and ourselves” And here we learn that if we feel we cannot sustain our actions, we should slow down.

Having come back from my year away I was so excited about all the projects I could get involved in, so many opportunities for employment, charity work, involvement in worthwhile organizations… oh, and university, because if I don’t get a Monash degree am I even Jewish?

On top of all this, I surprised my parents on our extended family whatsapp group to tell them I was going to run Winter Camp 2018.

Despite this, I know I have to heed the message of the parasha; if I overload myself how can I truly be present in the things I do, and help the people I endeavor to help? Rather do less and do well in those things, while keeping time for self-care and friendships.

But, please don’t let my mum and dad know I’ve written all this because they will send cancellation emails to everything I’m involved in that isn't university.

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