At Mitzvah Corps, we place a high value on the ability to articulate a narrative, to compellingly carry another person along your journey, to recreate through the power of language the context of how we each arrived here, in this moment. Hineynu, here we are.
Throughout the summer, teens have been crafting their own narratives, explanations of pivotal events in their lives, and using reflection to put into words the experiences they’re having on site. In the Deep South, the teens on the Civil Rights program are just beginning to weave together the complicated components of the American story; in Ecuador, the group has opened a new chapter in the Galapagos Islands; in Seattle, they’ve been sharing personal stories alongside refugee children, and writing a new narrative together.
In this week’s Torah portion, Devarim (Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22), we begin the final book with a recap of the entire story of the Exodus and 40+ years since. Though so eager to enter the Promised Land, the Israelites could not step foot into their future without first articulating all they had been through to bring them there.
As Josh May, a participant on the Civil Rights trip, so eloquently stated to his group on their first night, the translation of Hineini, “here I am,” implies that one has not only physically arrived, but has brought one’s full self the table. Together, we take this Shabbat to pause, to reflect, to tell our story, so that we can stand proud and say, Hineynu, here we are.