Parshat Devarim

Devarim 1:12

How ( אֵיכָ֥ה ) can I bear unaided the trouble of you, and the burden, and the bickering!

Megillat Eikah 1:1

How does the city sit solitary?

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

there is a deeper connection between the eikha of Moses, Isaiah, and Jeremiah, and they all express the same sorrow and lamentation. The eikha of Moses is the beginning, the key to the matter …

The problem began with the fact that Moses was alone. … his complaint was that no one else beside him really cared. … no one except Moses was interested in the momentous challenges of leadership. 

To a great extent, Moses’ problem in the wilderness, and Israel’s problem afterward as well, is that people are not proactive in involving themselves in things, but instead wait for things to be done for them. 

[after Moses] soon enough everything fell apart. … The problem was that people were willing to be recipients but not creators, an unsustainable dynamic for maintaining a positive relationship with God.

Lack of involvement and lack of real interest in things progressively increase over time. At first, one does not love the good; then he does not hate the evil. Then he becomes apathetic to evil; as time goes on, he is willing to accept it tacitly, and eventually he is even willing to agree to it outright. He begins to cooperate with it … If no one cares, there can be no national community, no unity, no agreements; only “How does the city sit solitary.”

[only after the Exile] did the understanding sink in that we have nothing to rely on but the personal involvement of each one of us.

There is only one way out of this predicament: for every person to get involved.