- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On March 31, 2017
- 0 Comments
Welcome to Shabbat Awakenings, a weekly reflection as we move toward Shabbat.
Pharaoh is back, though he never left. From the texts in Exodus we finished reading last week to the Passover narrative we will share for the holiday in the coming days, the tyrant never tires from his tirades.
An edict, a directive, or a command originated without forethought of the after effect. Regardless of what others may know or have researched, Pharaoh set his people on the narrow path of destruction. It may have appeared beneficial to him but the decisions were short sighted as he took on great risks.
His missing trait was empathy. He had no desire to consider what it might mean to get into the hearts and minds of those suffering as a way to contemplate his path. He worked only from the vantage point of what was good for him and his family. He dwelled in the gilded palace while the slaves slept in mud. When the plagues rained down frogs, locusts, and boils, he relented but then retracted. If it didn’t affect him personally, then why bother? The environmental impact must have been tremendous in addition to the human toll. How could anyone survive those assaults on the earth? The land, the water, and the human souls whether slave, serf, or citizen meant nothing to him.
When one focuses on one’s own agenda and self interest with little or no thought of the other, from where does help come in a time of need? In the end, Pharaoh’s self-possession would cause his own demise. He would not have a second chance.
We are in and enter a time of year when we are invited and commanded to consider the relentless pursuit of empathy in the face of oppression and degradation. At the very heart of the Seder, the seminal lesson appears:
In every generation, each person must see him or herself as if he or she went forth from Egypt.
The ritual of the Seder provides the methodology through the symbols and storytelling, but each of us relearns the nurturing and healing power of what it means to consider the other in our own behavior beyond the Seder table. In this season of our freedom, let us not underestimate the impact of empathy at this moment in history we live in right now and into the future.
We look forward to greeting you at Qabbalat Shabbat at 6 p.m. and at Torah study at 9 a.m.
Live Webstream Qabbalat Shabbat HERE.
Connect with me with comments and reflections HERE.