Why were the matriarchs of the Jewish people unable to conceive? According to one midrash from B'reishit Rabba, God wanted to hear them cry out in prayer first. *
I find this midrash challenging to the point of offensive. However it does, in some ways, speak to our current moment during the COP26 conference.
The truth I find in this midrash is in the power of finding words for what ails us. Articulating our inner desires can be a balm for our hurting hearts. Whether in prayer, in counselling, or in conversations with a trusted confidant, being able to put words to that which is bothering us brings a level of inner relief.
Once Rebecca and Isaac are able to articulate their desire for a future for their family, the world shifts around them, and the story of our People continues.
In many ways, the power of the COP26 conference is that it is happening. Many speeches are filled with platitudes and empty promises (for instance the Canadian Prime Minister's speech was met with much resistance which will make converting the airy rhetoric into hard law very difficult). Yet, in spite of this, by hearing each country name what it can do, it shifts the ground as to what is considered acceptable and what is on the table. While many promises may yet be unfulfilled, it gives them a legitimacy that hopefully will be seen by legislators when the leaders return home.
Many of us also caught the news that Israel's Energy Minister Karine Elharrar was accidently barred from the first day of the conference, because it was in a non-accessible venue. While she came to make a statement on green energy and climate change, she ended up making a statement on accessibility. A good reminder that sometimes the statements we make are forced on us by circumstance.
I know that many of us, like Isaac and Rebecca, have much we are praying for at this moment so that our loved ones and families may continue on in strength for generations to come. Let us not forget that articulating those prayers can help build a community of support.
*One in six couples experiences infertility. For help in our Jewish community, know that Student Rabbi Lev and I are available to talk, and visit https://www.chana.org.uk