Today is January 18, 2018 -
I recall removing my shoes when I entered a mosque, a Hindu Temple, the headquarters of the Bahai faith in Haifa, and a Korean vegetarian restaurant in Manhattan. Each place has its own rules and as a visitor I followed them. In our Torah portion when Moses sees the burning bush, God says to him, “Do not draw near; take off your shoes from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” Here is another interpretation for going barefoot that goes beyond the inherent holiness of that place. It is from a commentary called, Oleleot Ephraim. It reminds us that there are many small sharp objects on the ground and our shoes prevent us from feeling them. “…However when one walks barefoot, [one] feels every small thing lying on the ground…God said to Moses, the leader of Israel, “Take off your shoes.” The leader of the generation must feel every obstacle and every impediment on the road. He must feel the pain of his people and realize what is bothering them.” Should other leaders also recognize what bothers those who they represent? We finally have a deal that prevented our country from going over the “fiscal cliff.” However I wonder if many of those in Congress truly understand what disturbs their constituents. Are our Congress people more concerned with reelection than governing? It is true that Moses did not have to face a primary battle and have his voting record scrutinized by opponents on his left and right. However his sensitivity to those he was leading is a lesson to our representatives. They ignored what is bothering so many of us and displayed an inability to solve our country’s problems in a timely manner. I don’t know if taking off their shoes before entering the Capitol building would help, but I do pray that somehow they become more sensitive to solving the real issues that challenge each of us and our nation.