Don’t Ask How (Devarim)

As he does a final review of his experience as leader of Jewish Nation, Moses recalls a moment of frustration where he exclaimed: “How can I alone bear all of your burdens and quarrels?!” (1:12) The Hebrew word for “how” is איכה (Eicha.)  This word is generally used in the Hebrew bible to express despair (As in Lamentations Ch. 1) and frustration (as above and 7:17). However, the first time the word איכה appears it is a question from G-d to Adam after taking from the Tree of Knowledge and it is pronounced “Ayeka” which means “Where are you?” There, G-d is providing Adam with an opening to reflect on what just happened and inviting him to accept responsibility for what he did.


When our child is in a victimized state of frustration or despair saying things like: “Why Me?!” or “How come this always happen to me?!” we empathize and validate her feelings. But there’s more: We gently ask the first question G-d asked human kind – “Where are you in all this?” Are you at least partly responsible and if not, what can you can do now to improve the situation? This extreme taking of responsibility coveys confidence in her abilities and empowers her to keep moving forward.