- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On January 8, 2021
- 0 Comments
Welcome to Shabbat Awakenings, a weekly reflection as we move toward Shabbat and this week, a new year. You can listen to it as a podcast HERE.
We know how this part of the story ends. The one who sought to aggrandize himself by ruling with a paranoid oppressive propaganda machine thought he could raise himself higher by creating false narratives about those he was sure would destroy him. His determination to secure his position through amoral methods led to his downfall and eventual destruction.
The Pharaoh we meet as we begin the Book of Exodus serves as a prototype of an ill-intentioned leader who destroys himself because he fails to see beyond himself.
We learn early in Exodus that a new king arose over Egypt who knew not Joseph. (1:8). The Pharaoh immediately got to work to incite hatred toward the Israelite people, viewing them as his immediate enemies. His leadership engendered nefarious methods of ruthless behavior to make their life bitter with harsh labor. The Pharaoh didn’t know this people nor could he see their suffering. He only saw the need for his own power.
As the story unfolds, the power of the Pharaoh had to confront the power of the people. His model of cowardice met a vision of courage. If the Israelites didn’t cower under the forced labor, then the Pharaoh thought he could turn to those loyal to him. He must have had many sycophants eager to please him. When the Pharaoh approached the midwives to kill the Israelite baby boys, he did not know of their moral courage. These women, Shifrah and Puah, allowed the babies to live. And when one of these babies was sent down the river Nile so that Pharaoh’s soldiers would not find him, the daughter of Pharaoh reached out her hand and saved his life. We know this particular child will grow up to lead the people to their freedom, but that won’t happen for many chapters.
In the beginning of Exodus, we are still steeped in the immorality and manipulative maneuvers of the supreme leader of the Egyptian people. Yet, we find glimmers of hope in the deeds of individuals who defy his grasp on power. They will raise their voices through their actions and not be silenced.
This past week, we have watched power perverted by reckless leadership; democracy made vulnerable by destructive intent. And yet, we have also witnessed the determination to overcome violence and hatred. We have heard the call for our better selves that we can be the ones to restore dignity and integrity. The path to redemption is wrought with challenges but I believe we are up to the task. Let us join together tonight at Qabbalat Shabbat to find strength and courage in the presence of one another as we look to the future with hope and promise.
- We join together for Qabbalat Shabbat at 6:00 p.m. Following the service, we will share another virtual oneg. We can pray together HERE on the Temple Israel website, or HERE on Zoom, or even HERE on TI’s Facebook page. Or, just find it all on the website www.tisrael.org/TogetherWithTI .
- Tonight at 5:00 p.m. our littlest congregants join for Tot Rock Shabbat. Join us on Zoom here
- Riverway joins together at 7:30 p.m. HERE.
- Torah study engages everyone. We start with a short Shabbat morning service at 9:00 a.m. with Torah reading and then launch into a provocative discussion. To join the conversation interactively, access Zoom HERE. You can also watch HERE on Temple Israel’s website or HERE on TI’s Facebook page.
- Thank Goodness It’s Shabbat takes place at 10:00 a.m. Join us on Zoom here.
- Join us at 8:00 p.m. for Havdalah as we welcome the new week together. Join HERE on Zoom, or watch along on the website HERE, or on Facebook HERE.
- Sunday at 11:30 a.m. Avivah Zornberg will be teaching on the topic “The Pit and the Rope: Joseph and Judah.” Join HERE for what is certain to be a meaningful morning of learning together.