As we read parashat Yitro this week and celebrate Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month, I am reminded of a midrash that I shared almost a year ago, that teaches, "When the Jews left Egypt, almost all of them were disabled" (Numbers Rabbah, Naso 7:1). I have been revisiting the image of this community of Israelites who gathered at Sinai to receive Torah. A community that honors the unique insights of each and every one of us in our varied bodies and abilities.
The emphasis of that midrash is on the receiving of Torah from up above. But from my own experience with illness and disability, there is so much Torah that comes from within. As Jewish feminists have reminded us for decades, every year we are called to stand again at Sinai. Sometimes we are at the foot of the mountain gazing upward. And sometimes we are peering into the deep mountain of our own experiences.
I invite you to join me tomorrow as we explore both the written and oral Torah of disability and chronic illness. For those who can't join us, I offer you three Divrei Torah by Rabbi Elliot Kukla, Jessica Belasco, and Lauren Tuchman.
Rabbi Ari Lev