I’m not the kind of person who finds it easy to say goodbye.
As a child, I’d cry when we drove out of my favourite holiday resort by way of a cheap taxi. If only that was the last time I’d cried upon parting. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of encountering numerous wonderful people. My old best friend. A number of amazing older men and women who I used to care for. The odd perfectly friendly and approachable acquaintance. Yet I’ve also had the fortune of saying goodbye to all these people. Older people I once saw every week have sadly passed on. Friends have moved away or left on their own, exciting adventures. Some people have decided they don’t want to speak to me again, or those dreaded “external factors” have gotten in the way.
I wasn’t being sarcastic when I said that I was lucky to be saying goodbye so often. It’s a lesson. A life lesson. One which will stay with me through the years, and one which I hope I don’t forget.
In this week’s Parsha, the daughters of Tzelafchad petition Moshe Rabbenu, asking to be given the inheritance of his land, for they have no brothers. He doesn’t know whether or not this is permissible. Just as at the end of Parshas Balak, he forgot the law regarding zealotry when Pinchas remembered it, Moshe Rabbenu has no idea what to do. He’s stumped. Why?
The answer is that this happens because of something he said to the Israelites. If you have any important questions, he says, take them to me and I’ll answer them. He displays arrogance when he says this- even though he’s not inherently arrogant, but instead incredibly humble. However, this humility had to be taught to him by G-d, through being given a question he can’t answer. Life’s most important lessons- the most character building lessons- are the hardest.
My weakness is saying goodbyes. And rather than bemoaning this, I’m going to thank G-d for building up my tolerance to it. Even if I sometimes wish the lessons he taught me weren’t so painful.