Friday, January 29, 2010

Exodus Beshalach Verses 13:17-17:16

This week the Israelites have finally crossed the Sea of Reeds. God has heard their cry and vanquished their slavery. Once they are out, the woman of Israel get up and sing and dance. What else should they do? They sing the Song of the Sea. The tune includes Mi Chamocha which is sung at every service. Mi Chamocha shares how Miriam and her colleagues felt being liberated after a lifetime of doing work for an evil man. The words literally translate to "Who is like You, God?" A nation at sea celebrates throughout the night.

Then, they start their voyage. Beshalach is all down hill from here. Every little thing was a cry against Moses, Aaron, or even God. They ask for tasty food, so God rains bread from the heavens. They ask for water, so God has Moses swing his rod at rock that provides for every Israelite. Nothing is enough. The Israelites are like the child in the backseat saying "Are we there yet?" when you pull out of the driveway.

Be greatful for what you have. Every morning I wake up in a country where I am free, and can be a proud Jew. The United States provides me with a stellar education and then I am free to do whatever I want after-school. In Beshalach, each Israelite takes a bread omer (counting) for their family. One man takes as much as he needs, but not too much. Another takes less, but not too little. If we all gave a little, the world would have it's omer.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Exodus Bo Verses 10:1-13:6

God has held a hand over the land of Egypt and proved to them that there is one God. Locusts, darkness, and death of the first born are the finale of the plagues. Each time a plague begins, Pharaoh begs Moses to plea to God to take it away. Unfortunately, everytime his heart is still stiffened by God. When death of the first born occurs, the Egyptians practically throw the Israelites out of Egypt. The Israelites are on the run and on the way they can not bake leavened bread, thus inventing matzah. Our people are still worried Pharaoh will change his mind. Bo leaves us with the Jews on the run.

This week I would like to talk specifically about the worst and most devastating of the plagues. God says to Moses that the tenth plague will set apart Egypt and Israel as he kills the death every first born. God demands him to declare to the Israelites that they must kill one of their lambs and put the blood on the door. God calls the meal from the lamb's meat, "the passover offering". As God conveys the tragic plague over Egypt, God passes over any house with the lamb's blood. Some call it unruly, but was there any other way?

My question is, where were the Egyptians? They did not notice this all going on. If they have not figured it out yet, God will radiate plagues until they are liberated. Was this not suspcious. This is what the Torah means when Egypt and Israel will distinguished. Pharaoh and his people could care less about their slaves' lives. The loss of community in Egypt is what could allow God to smite Egypt with one more plague.

In my own town,the community came together giving back to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday. I felt welcomed as a resident alien: Yankee loving, Jewish kid born in New Jersey who wants to be a rabbi in a slimly diverse, Red Sox nation town where most of my friend's do not know what a rabbi is.

Another time, about a month ago, my cousin had us work at a homeless shelter for her Bat Mitzvah. The leader of the shelter told us that once we leave this shelter, we should not be scared of the homeless. If it was us out on the streets, we would like to be treated like a rat. When we see the homeless, we turn away. What if we were to say hello? What if Egypt did not turn on blind eye on the Israelites?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Exodus Vayera Verses 6:2-9:35

The ten plagues have arrived. Seven of them have struck and three have yet to come. Moses and Aaron confront Pharaoh in order to liberate the Israelites. God purposes stiffens Pharaoh's heart. God turns the Nile to blood, sends frogs, vermin, wild beasts, livestock illness, boils, and hail to reak havoc on the land of Egypt. Why does God purposely stiffen Pharaoh heart?

Does God want the Israelites to stay? Does God want Egypt to fall? The Torah says God want to proove to Egypt there is only one God. If we are saying God controls free-will, why did the centuries of oppression follow the Exodus? One of my sixth grade teachers said that most of us are visual learners. Is oppression our lesson?

To me this portion goes beyond the ten plagues. All the portions carry the actual story of the Torah along, but all of them have messages that only the heart can find. To me a God shows a stiffened heart does no one good. The first God control pharaoh's choice. After that, Pharaoh was being ignorant that the God, the one and only had come over Egypt.

A good leader needs to have an iron fist and a gentle heart. Abraham Lincoln fought for what he believed in and had the heart to free the African American slaves. Raamses II fought for what he believed in, but had no heart to free the slaves. Not only did these horrible things happen to him, but his land, people and future were castrophically altered. His dynasty ended, which in Ancient Egypt was horrible for a pharaoh. They say Egypt fell to Alexander the Great, but I wonder if every fall in history is because God has found a stubborn heart.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Exodus Shemot Verses 1:1-6:1

Welcome to Exdous! Exdous is the book about the Israelite's liberation in the land of Egypt. In this portion, Joseph and his brothers have been long gone. The new Pharaoh had no idea who Joseph was, and the Israelites were no longer this tiny bunch of Israelites living in the land of Egypt. Pharaoh thought the Israelites would fight with the enemy of Egypt and take them down.

Pharaoh ordered each Israelite boy born be thrown in the Nile. A Levite baby,Moses, went down a basket and saved by Pharaoh's daughter. One day he was out watching the Israelites work and saw an Egyptian strikng a slave. He struck the Egyptian down. Scared of Pharaoh, he ran away. He lived in Midian with Jethro, his father-in-law and his wife, Zipporah. He thought Egypt was no longer part of him.

One day God contacted him through a burning bush, but the as it burned there was no damage. God told Moses that he was chosen to lead the Israelites out of Egypt to the land of milk and honey where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob dwelled. Then, Moses and God went back and forth, for Moses did not want to do this task. After some holy persuasion, Moses packed for Egypt. Reunited with his brother, Aaron, he confronted Pharaoh. When Pharaoh heard of this, he gave the slaves more work.

This portion is extraordinarily the responsibily for the Holocaust. Hitler was not all that creative when he formed his plot. This portion told him how to convince people to hate Jews. By making them look as the "more powerful other". To take them down, kill them or work them to death. Unfortunately, no Moses stopped the Holocaust in time.

People say that the most important things taught are math and english. Math teaches you how to think, and english teaches you how to put those thoughts into words. If anyone would include another subject, science teaches us about what is going on around us. History is just as important.

History repeats itself just as it did in the 1930's and '40's. Today it is taught, but being a student I find there are two types of history. There is history with the dates, people, places, and events. Then, there are the lessons of history. The
Israelites of Egypt were not doing anything wrong, but ignorance betrayed them. The
Jews of Europe were not doing anything wrong, but ignorance of history betrayed them.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Genesis Vayehi Verses 47:28-50:26

Happy New Year! The really weird coincidence is I have now blogged through the whole Torah. Last "year", (although its not exact) I wrote my first interpetation on Parshat Yayehi. I think this portion is the perfect new years portion.

First, let me address Jews do celebrate New Years. New Years is "New Years by the numbers". We are going from the planet's 2009 to the planet's 2010. Rosh Hashana is the "Jewish Spiritual New Year" where we purify ourselves for a new year of Torah and a new year of Judaism.

To me, this is an incredibly dark parshat. Last week, Parshat Vayigash was the reuniting of Jacob in Joseph. In this portion, Jacob tells Joseph he is dying and makes him promise that he will burry his father in the land of Canaan. This is a right of passage to Jacob. Jacob passes his family blessing onto Joseph. Joseph makes sure he burries his father in Canaan. Then, Joseph dies. All the portion says is that he is burried in the land of Egypt, not Canaan like his forefather!

To me this shows a difference between Jacob and Joseph. Not that one is "more Jewish" than the other because to me that is meaningless. No Jew is "more Jewish" than another. The correct term would be "more traditonal" or "more observant". Anyways, to me this shows the difference between the 20th Century and the last decade.

The 20th Century that had its ups and downs, but changed the world. Jacob had his up and downs, but changed the world. Art, film, sports, politics, and just the way we live changed. Jacob resembles his traditional fathers. All three went to Haran to find a wife, lived in Canaan, blessed one of the children, and was burried near each other in Canaan. They changed our world by creating the fundamentals of Judaism.

Then, there is the 2000's. In 10 years, there was a lot of good like the innovation of technology. Joseph saved Egypt and his family. Unfortunately, we are in two wars, and the Great Recession. Jacob's nation will sadly soon be enslaved.

I believe God does everything for a purpose. If my analogy is right, what is God's purpose for making the Jacob-Joseph gap occur once again from the 20th to 21st Century?