Let’s Talk About Asking for Help

Earlier this week, The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington held its annual meeting. It was a celebration — a chance to look back and look forward; to appreciate the past and to anticipate the future; to take stock of where we are, how we got here and where we are going. We said “thank you” to outgoing President Liza Levy for her extraordinary leadership, and her tireless dedication to Federation and to our community. We welcomed the new Federation President Robert Zahler, acknowledged Federation’s outstanding professional staff, outgoing and incoming executive committee and board members and gave awards to deserving volunteers and professionals.

In other words, we acknowledged that it “takes a village” to build community. None of us engaged in the business of community does anything alone.

In this week’s parasha, Behaalotecha, the Israelites – after being in the wilderness for what seems like an eternity – are hungry, thirsty and uncertain about whether they will ever reach the Promised Land. They criticize Moses and Aaron’s leadership. They even wonder out loud if they were not better off as slaves in Egypt. And finally, we read, “The people took to complaining bitterly before God.”

Interestingly, God responds in different ways. When the Israelites made reasonable complaints about immediate needs, the response came with kindness. But when they were merely grumbling “like complainers,” God becomes incensed, lashing out in disappointment and anger.

This lesson applies to each of us today, and to each of our role’s in the community. When we face moments of difficulty in our lives or organizations, we must be comfortable in reaching out to others to ask for their help and support. If all we do is kvetch, we may find catharsis and perhaps even receive kind words and expressions of genuine sympathy – but ultimately, we will accomplish nothing concrete to resolve our problems. The latter, asking for help, takes a special focus that doesn’t necessarily mean “going it alone.” Reaching out to others in times of struggle takes – and gives – strength.

Here are ways to Make It Yours this week: