Shabbat Parashat VaEra Looking Ahead

Dear Friends,

I hope you will join us tonight as our Zoom services as we celebrate Shabbat along with our Religious School students.

When we include our students, we are looking ahead. When we look ahead, as Jews who are commanded to look back. We are commanded to “remember” – to find inspiration in our tradition, in our Torah as well as in our communal and personal histories.

This weekend we mark MLK weekend even as we read the continuation of the Exodus story. In our weekly Torah portion of VaEra we read about many of the plagues that were visited upon the Egyptians, as the Egyptians and the Israelites struggled with the realities of oppression.

What can we learn from this story? To find the message, let’s look back to last week’s Torah portion.

In Exodus 2:23-25 we read that God heard, God remembered, God looked, and God knew the suffering of our people. These four action verbs contain a powerful message. Had people – the Egyptian people – or the Israelites themselves – understood the message these four action verbs – the message of God hearing, remembering, looking and knowing – perhaps the severity of the plagues could have been prevented!

And, what is the message for us today?

Today, looking ahead, when we sense oppression, or injustice around us, perhaps we, human beings, should endeavor to be like God. Perhaps we should emlate God’s hearing, remembering, looking and fully knowing in order to diminish the reach of evil in our midst.

If we took the time to hear the stories of our neighbors, to remember them, to examine the situation, and to know that we are obliged to do tikkun olam [to respond with compassion and with caring], perhaps then we could eliminate, or at least alleviate, the plagues that afflict our society today.

MLK strove to model a peaceful way forward without bowing to oppression and discrimination. He heard, he remembered, he looked and he crafted a way forward toward redemption. MLK started a process.

Now, it is up to us to look ahead and to be guided to take part in the on-going work of tikkun olam by what we see and learn from the past.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror