Thin people might not understand the struggle of overweight people.
Mild-mannered people might not appreciate the battle of those who are easily triggered.
And naturally confident people might not value the effort insecure individuals have to put in every single day.
Can we blame them? Not really, because so many of us do this all the time! God gave us abilities and skills, and we are so used to them that we might not realize that others do not have the same competencies we enjoy.
That, of course, can lead to significant relationship challenges.
When others don’t feel that we understand their challenges, they may feel ignored, unsupported, and as though their feelings don’t matter. This can make them feel invisible.
Let’s be kind to ourselves, though. Many times, when we act in ways that may seem insensitive, it doesn’t mean we only care about ourselves. It often stems from a place of love and concern for others. We can’t bear to see them struggling, and in our desire for their happiness and well-being, we might wish they could handle their challenges as easily as we can.
We find the same idea in this week’s Torah portion.
When Yitro comes to visit the Israelite camp in the desert, he notices how Moshe is the only one who judges the Jewish people.
Yitro finds it quite disturbing and admonishes Moshe: “What is this thing that you are doing to the people? Why do you sit by yourself while all the people stand before you from morning till evening? … You will surely wear yourself out both you and these people who are with you, for the matter is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone!”
He then suggests to Moshe the idea of creating a judicial system that will include many layers. Moshe will be the top judge, responding to only otherwise unsolved issues.
Sound advice indeed, but what was Moshe thinking in the first place? Didn’t he realize that it would be impossible to be the sole judge of over 3 million people? Can we even say that Moshe, the faithful shepherd of the Jewish people, was wrong in assessing their needs?
The Rebbe offers the following explanation: Moshe’s holiness was so profound that it positively affected everyone around him. If two people were in the midst of a disagreement and came before Moshe, they would be uplifted and know what to do.
With such a fantastic court system, you can quickly resolve all disputes.
However, this system can work only for Moshe. This is why Yitro suggested that Moshe implement a new system to empower many low-level judges. These judges would have the same life experiences as the general population and could understand their struggles. As a result, they could provide personalized advice and rulings.
Since we are not like Moshe, we must stick with Yitro’s advice and acknowledge, validate and appreciate others’ struggles. Hopefully, we’d be able to be supportive of their journeys upward.
Rabbi Mendy Kaminker is the rabbi of Chabad of Hackensack. He welcomes your questions and comments at [email protected]