Home > Sermons > SERMON: Romania, Mandela, Obama: Good for the Jews?

SERMON: Romania, Mandela, Obama: Good for the Jews?

December 24, 2013

This Shabbat is one of transition … for me and for the Jewish people. In October I had announced I was going to be delivering the sermon for 10 straight Shabbatot. Well, this is it! After this Shabbat, the transition to vacation mode begins to set in. And just in time! I’ve run out of things to talk about! During this 10 week period, I have discussed Mohammad and Rabbi Ginsberg, the Redskins and Iran, the Pew Survey and Thanksgivingkah, Kristallnacht and John F. Kennedy. What’s left? If this is to be beginning of the transition period, I want to do it by
taking note of the transition we make with this week’s Torah portion.

Today we began the book of Shemot – the Book of Exodus. The book of Beresheit- of Genesis – has come to a close and with that, the story of the creation of the Jewish family has come to a close. Now, the Torah is to focus on the birth of the Jewish nation – a birth that took place in the land of Egypt. The experience of our people in Egypt forms the very core of our nation’s experience. The first of the Ten Commandments identifies God as being the one “who took us out of the land of Egypt.” One of the 613 commandments is to “remember the day of your departure from the land of Egypt all the days of your life.” It is a Biblical commandment
that every day we remember the Egyptian experience. Why so? Not simply to remember the past but also to help us understand the present and future. And that’s what I want to do this morning. I want to reflect on several recent events in light of the Egyptian experience, indeed, in
light of one word that the Torah uses to describe that experience, where we are told: “Vayareu otanu ha-mitzrim.” Simple translation: “The Egyptians were bad to us.” But you should know that different commentators, at different times, saw different contexts in which to put this word, “vayareu – and they were bad.” READ MORE

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