If you spend much time in Israel, you are bound to learn the word “Savlanut” – patience. In a country where a familial culture often overrides social grace, you will often hear store clerks, baristas, bus drivers and waiters call out “Savlanut” when their patrons are getting, err, a little too pushy. Israel has endless bureaucracy and, therefore, endless opportunities to demonstrate, or not demonstrate, Savlanut.
I was reminded of the word Savlanut this week, when attempting to make an appointment for a Covid-19 vaccination. I am sorry to say that I ended the week still with no appointment. Savlanut. I know that I’m not the only one. I suspect that some of you may have also spent time this week trying to track down an elusive opportunity for the Covid vaccine.
In the Book of Numbers, Moses’ sister Miriam breaks out with leprosy after gossiping about her him. Commentators traditionally look at this tale as a parable about the ill-consequences of gossip. I also, think, though it speaks to the topic of Savlanut. After Miriam contracts leprosy, she spends a week outside the camp to recover. For that full week, the Israelites, although desert wanderers, stay put. They wait with Savlanut for Miriam to get better. As quoted in Mishna Avot 6, the people of Israel, through their patience, is saying, “I will bear the burden with you.”
So, back to the Covid-19 vaccine. I know that the delays, the bureaucracy and the shortages are irritating at best and a significant health hazard at worst. We have all shown great Savlanut over the past 11 months of the pandemic. And, unfortunately, we will need to show a little more Savlanut moving forward. That’s what a community does – we bear the burdens for one another.
I’ll be at it again on Monday morning, trying to make a vaccine appointment. And probably repeating to myself silently, “Savlanut.” But, I’ll also look at getting vaccinated as a communal responsibility, as much as a personal health issue. When we bear the burdens together, patience seems a whole lot easier. Stay healthy, Stay safe.
Rabbi Debbie Cohen