Thursday, December 26, 2013


In Sh'mot we begin to read the narrative that changes the story of our ancestors from a story about a familial tribe to the becoming of a people.  The parasha starts with a real page turning statement that let's us know things are different:  And a pharaoh rose up in Egypt who knew not Joseph.  This lines clearly creates a new era for the people.  The prosperity of Israelites was coming to an end, first through taxes and then through slavery.  But a man in born to help them become free again, Moses.

Moses is called by God at to free the people from their oppression.  This begins a long drawn out narrative of the fight between Moses and Pharaoh for the freedom, Moses and the people, who struggle with their freedom, and at times Moses and God over what God wants of the people.

Moses, born to Jewish slaves, is saved by the courage of his mother and sister to keep him alive by floating him into the arms of the Pharaoh's daughter.  Being raised in the court of the Pharaoh, Moses knew wealth and privilege and yet when he learned about the plight of his fellow Israelites he empathized with them, to point of killing an Egyptian overseer.

Moses could easily have walked away from his people, his comfort was insured even if his identity was known.  Throughout history we have seen people of an oppressed group shift their identity to their oppressors. Some times it is to simply survive, but there are times it is just too difficult to buck the system or give up the benefits of you receive.  But Moses rose to become the leader of the people, he found parts of himself he didn't know existed.  It was because of that he was called by God.  The symbolism of him finding God's presence in the burning bush when he left camp in search of a stray lamb.

Moses becoming the leader of the people  made his life more uncomfortable for the greater good.  He models that for us today.  We often have opportunities to help those in need from afar, writing a check, attending a fund raiser or even baking, knitting or building things in the comfort of our own spaces.  But Moses challenge the authority directly while giving up his own comfort.  He strove to go beyond himself.   Moses tells us we should make reach beyond our comfort zones.  We often strive to do what we call tikkun olam, repairing the world.  But to really repair the world we need to find the cracks and breaks.  As we approach a new year we should challenge ourselves to not only continue to do good work in the world but to truly understand the good we are doing.  Who we are helping, and what we can learn from them.  Often when we find ourselves doing something to serve others we see so much that they have to offer us.

Moses made a choice to give up comfort for justice, but he was reluctant at each step he took.  it isn't about being brave or careless, it is about moving in a direction.  Add to what you are doing now and continue to expand your world.  You may not become the next Moses, but you may find a better you out there, and you are worth finding.

No comments:

Post a Comment