- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On April 6, 2018
- 0 Comments
Welcome to Shabbat Awakenings, a weekly reflection as we move toward Shabbat.
Last week at this time, we were preparing to retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt.
This week, on this Shabbat, a path of freedom opens before us.
Last week we gathered around Seder tables to use symbols to experience the escape from the narrow straits of slavery. This week, as the Passover holiday draws to a close, the expanse of possibility links us to the days ahead toward receiving the Torah. But, not just yet.
Next week, we will resume the weekly Torah portion in the Book of Leviticus. We paused last week to focus on a special portion tied to Passover. This week, we have arrived to the moment of our redemption. Tradition teaches us that our ancestors arrived to the sea.
Then Moses held out his arm over the sea and the Eternal drove back the sea with a strong east wind all that night, and turned the sea into dry ground. The waters were split, and the Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and their left. The Egyptians came in pursuit after them into the sea, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and horsemen…The waters turned back and covered the chariots and the horsemen—Pharaoh’s entire army that followed them into the sea; not one of them remained. But the Israelites had marched through the sea on dry ground. (Exodus 14:21-29)
The Talmud (Megillah 10b) will use this passage to ponder whether God rejoices over the downfall of the wicked. The ministering angels wanted to chant their hymns but the Holy One of Blessing, said, ‘The work of my hands is being drowned in the sea, and shall you chant hymns?’ Wrapped in this moment of triumph, it emphasizes that there are still those who suffered, even though the Egyptians, themselves, caused much suffering of others.
It is a poignant moment with which to end the holiday. A path of freedom does open up to us, but it also challenges us how we will use that freedom. To be free means we also have obligation. Our tradition could have forgotten the Egyptians. It could have cast them into oblivion in the depth of the sea. Instead, it lifts up that they form a part of humanity despite their inhumane treatment. We may despise their behavior but we cannot ignore them either.
So we march forward. Our redemption points us toward Torah, to a way of life cognizant of the other. The waters have parted. So much potential lies before us.
How will we go forward with this blessing of freedom?
Tonight, we welcome Etai Freedman of MEET at MIT for our Feinberg lecture. MEET, The Middle East Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow, brings together Israeli and Palestinian bright young leaders to create positive social and political change through technology and entrepreneurship. Services begin at 6:00 p.m. Live stream HERE.
Tomorrow, we pray and study Torah, join us at 9:00 a.m.
I welcome your comments and reflections HERE.