In the story of the burning bush in the Torah, Moses was pasturing the sheep of his father-in-law, Yitro. He came to Mount Horeb, which is another name for Mount Sinai. An angel appeared to Moses in a blazing fire out of a thorn bush. The bush was burning, but it didn’t burn up. It didn’t burn into ashes. God called to Moses out of the burning bush. God called out, “Moses, Moses.” And Moses answered “Hineini,” which means “Here I am.” And God said to Moses, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground.” Then God told Moses that God wanted to send Moses to Pharoah to free the Israelites from Egyptian slavery.
In our daily lives, we’re often called upon to volunteer to perform important tasks. To visit and comfort someone who is ill. To attend a funeral. To donate to charity. To serve on a committee. And when asked to perform these good deeds, how many of us answer, “Hineini,” which means “Here I am.” Moses was 80 years old when he led the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery. But when God called out to him, Moses answered “Hineini.” Moses didn’t say "I’m too old.” He didn’t say “I’m retired.” He didn’t say “I’m too busy playing mah jongg.” He didn’t say “I don’t have enough time because I’m too busy watching football games on television.” Moses answered “Hineini.”
This temple has a lay leadership which is growing tired, which would like to see other members of the temple assume the mantle of leadership, which would like to see the tasks involved in running this temple assumed by other members.
And so when the time arrives for the present leadership to step down, for new members to step into positions of leadership in this temple, how many of us will say “Don’t look at me. Find someone else.”? And how many will answer the way Moses did when called upon by God? Moses answered “Hineini.” Without people who are willing to answer “Hineini," nothing good would ever happen to human beings. Somebody has to organize the things that have to be done to make life worthwhile. Somebody has to spend the time and do the work. And the people who make life worthwhile for everybody else are those whose answer is “Hineini" when volunteers are needed.
When we are called upon, we’re being put to the test. Will we have the willingness to answer “Hineini”?
Rabbi David Weissman