Friday, July 01, 2011

Exclusion: That Horrible Feeling

Once again, the Israelites fail to believe in God. In Parshat Chukat, the Israelites complain to Moses about their standard of living. They are angered by the lack of water in their arid environment. God orders Moses to slash a rock with his staff. Instantly, water gushes out of the rock. This portion also features the unfortunate deaths of Aaron and Miriam. God decides that no person of the originally liberated generation earned their entrance into the Promised Land. Their lack of faith held them back. Moses and his caravan pass through two kingdoms in Parshat Chukat. Each time Moses asks permission to travel along the roads of these kingdoms. He promises to merely stay on the road and avoid interacting with the people of either kingdom and their possessions. Both kings deny Moses this right, claiming he is a threat to their sovereignty. Therefore, the Israelites are attacked. In their defense, they retaliate to gain access to these private roadways.

It is human nature to exclude others. Exclusion helps us demonstrate our power. By leaving others out, we appeal to those who already belong. Moses did the best he was capable of to persuade these kings the Israelites meant no harm. Perhaps, these kings heard of the plague in Egypt and feared God. At this point, I do not find Israel much of a threat. Almost every week, I read about the Jewish people complaining to Moses. Although God punishes them, they fail to learn from their mistakes. Are the Israelites really a threat toward either king?

If anybody knows exclusion, a middle school graduate, like myself, should know it best. In the Israelites' case, exclusion snowballed into a battle. Nobody enjoys being excluded, yet at one point or another we all were left out of the major group. =In my experience, exclusion is generated in two different ways. Sometimes it is unintentional. For instance, at my middle school the tables were square with seats attached. If all the seats filled up, kids could feel left out. The excluders were not trying to be malicious, yet the environment caused isolation. The other kind of exclusion makes the antagonized one feel much worse; intentional exclusion. At times, it is appropriate, such as not making a team or getting a role in a play. However, clubs that require no minimum or maximum number of participants should be welcoming to anyone who seems interested. In my last few weeks of eighth grade, I saw cliques in full force. A clique in its simplest form can be a bond of friends based on similar interests. When these groups refuse to let in new members, it can cause havoc. Unlike the kings in the desert, modern humans should ignore their self doubt and be open to letting people be part of a group, club, or activity. On Sunday, I leave for Camp Shomria. I went last year and met many people. Upon meeting these people, I decided to forget how they were last year. When I arrive on Sunday, I will refuse to listen to any prerequisites about campers, counselors, or the facilities themselves. I want to show up with a clean slate, and I hope my peers feel the same way toward myself. Like I said, we all know how horrible it feels to be excluded. By working and tolerating each other, we can redeem Moses in the desert.