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Rabbi's Erev Shabbat Message

01/17/2020 01:52:15 PM


Shabbat Shemot

Shabbat Shalom, Shir Tikvah Learning Community

Join us for
erev Shabbat Kley Kodesh Kirtan tonight at 6:30 pm 

Shabbat morning Torah Study at 9:00 am
Shabbat morning services at 10:30 am

Support Bridgeport UCC's efforts to feed the houseless in Sunnyside.

Welcome items:
 peanut butter, tuna, pudding cups, handwarmers, socks.
Drop them off downstairs in the marked bin.  

Rabbi Ariel Stone is on sabbatical until March. In her absence, Rabbi Brian Zachary Mayer offers his take on this week's parashah. 

How we interpret the Bible can lead to
wonderful learning about the self.


 Shemot. "Names." Exodus 1:1–6:1


We start the sequel to Genesis with a line many Jews know by heart, “And then arose in Egypt a new Pharaoh, one who did not share friendship with our ancestor, Joseph.”


In other words: Pack your bags; things are about to get bad.


(We Jews live in constant fear of this happening. It's not if, it's when. It's always only a matter of time until the collective turns on us.)


Welcome to the original telling of this story: saga that will be Exodus.




The Seven Sections 

The new king of Egypt makes slaves of the Hebrews and orders their male children to be drowned in the Nile River. (1:1-22)

A Levite woman places her son, Moses, in a basket on the Nile, where he is found by the daughter of Pharaoh and raised in Pharaoh's house. (2:1-10)

Moses flees to Midian after killing an Egyptian. (2:11-15)

Moses marries Zipporah, the daughter of Midian's priest. They have a son named Gershom. (2:16-22)

God calls Moses from a burning bush and commissions him to free the Israelites from Egypt. (3:1-4:17)

Moses and Aaron request permission from Pharaoh for the Israelites to celebrate a festival in the wilderness. Pharaoh refuses and makes life even harder for the Israelites. (5:1-23)



rB’s Reflections on this portion
of The Book of Exodus



The DW

“Well, when you are 16, I’ll let you load the dishwasher,” I say to my kids as they move dishes from the table to where I stand at the dishwasher.


I babble and continue: “But not yet. No. You’re too young. 16. When you are a bit older, I’ll let you. It’s very complicated. I might sign you up for some tutoring, if you want to start earlier, at let’s say 15 and a half.”


I kinda hoped they would, but neither of them fell for saying aloud, “But, Dad, we’re old enough to do it now.”


Do more with less is what I was effectively telling my 10 and 13 year olds.


Albeit playfully.


There is always going to be more expected from you.


The newly-enslaved Israelites started out having to make bricks. Then they had to gather the wheat to make the bricks—but there was no reduction in the quota of bricks.


It seems we are always being asked to level up, to do something more.


To do something that we didn’t have to do before, and it’s not a pleasant feeling – to realize that no matter what you are doing, you are going to be expected to do more with less.


It is soul salve to know that this very human feeling was recorded by all of our ancestors to tell us, “Yes, dear one, we know. We know. We lived lives, too. And it always feels like it’s harder. Yes, dear one, yes. We know. We know.”


NOTE: It is a few weeks, maybe a month later, and my dear kiddos have leveled-up and are now loading the dishes into the dishwasher. We didn't have to wait until they were 16.



Of Moses and me


Moses and I are very similar:

  • We are both so very human
  • We were both born into families of some means
  • We both married outside the tribe


It strikes some people as odd that I’m the only one of us who is Jewish.


But, this is because, one can’t be Jewish until Judah. And the the tribes don't happen for hundreds of years. So, no Moses wasn't Jewish. He was an Israelite – a descendent of Jacob/Israel.


Here’s a far more important way Moses and I are similar:

  • How we approach being asked by God to do a task



Moses gets tapped by God for a job, and he tells God he isn’t qualified.

I have never quite felt qualified either.


It's nice to know Moses had imposter syndrome.


And, here is a comforting similarity: 

  • How we respond to what seems like a shoddy plan on behalf of God.


We both let God know that we aren't pleased with God's plan.


That's at the end of this portion. And, I love it. It's not often quoted. But, it's in there.


Even Moses didn't think God's plans were all too good.


Moses says to God, “God, why have you made things worse?"




I take great comfort in my doing this by knowing that Moses did the same thing that I do.


These are the words upon which the portion ends:

Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.”



Thu, January 23 2020 26 Tevet 5780