Nelly Shulman
Nelly Shulman

Etrogs and willows

The Torah reading for the Shabbat of Sukkot once again presents to us Moses not as a person of steel and stone, akin to the superhero but as a passionate human being once again having doubts in his leadership abilities.

In Exodus 33:12, Moses says to God, “You say to me, ‘Lead these people forward,’ but You have not made known to me whom You will send with me.” The cause of his concern is standing behind his back, both literally and figuratively.

Moses wants to know what will happen to the people of Israel. A true leader is always selfless. Moses continues with a heartfelt plea on behalf of his fellow Jews, “Consider, too, that this nation is Your people.”

Nobody wants to wander into the unknown alone and unsupported. Not only Moses feels responsible for the fate of fellow Jews, but he also sensors his inability to function without them. The most precious and expensive etrog is worthless without the common willow. Sometimes we feel like the latter, sometimes like the former, but we are all one nation and God’s people.


About the Author
Nelly Shulman is a journalist and writer currently based in Berlin. She is an author of four popular historical novels in the Russian language. She is working on the fifth novel in this series and on her first English-language novel, a historical thriller set during the Siege of Leningrad. She a Hawthornden Fellow and an alumna of the Nachum Goldmann Fellowship.
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