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Rabbi's Week In Review - 4/5/2022

04/05/2022 09:56:14 AM


As we are in the midst of preparation for our Pesach/Passover observance (mostly about the food, but also a good spring cleaning), we also start to ponder the themes of the holiday. Much more than celebrating our freedom, the holiday compels us to engage in figuring out what comes after liberation. What have we learned from the experience of the Exodus that informs how we engage in the world?

The most oft repeated commandment in our Written Torah dictates our obligations to the stranger in our midst. “You shall not oppress the stranger, for you know the soul of the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Shemot/Exodus 23:9) As is so common by those who experience persecution and suffering at the hands of others, we do not devolve into similar conduct. If we know how it feels to be treated with disdain as the stranger, the outsider, and we always recall that feeling, we never want anyone else to have to feel that way.

The prohibitory commandment not to oppress the stranger evolves into a proactive command to love the stranger, and ultimately to love the stranger because G-d loves the stranger. (Devarim/Deuteronomy 10:17-19) As we are all created B’tzelem Elohim, in G-d’s image, we are imbued with the responsibility to be G-d’s partners in the ongoing creation story and in the work of repairing our world. In that light, nothing can be more emblematic of emulating G-d than our conduct toward the stranger.

Ellen Karp has written in this week’s newsletter (with her usual eloquence) about ways we can aid the stranger. Whether they be refugees from Ukraine, Afghanistan, Central America, or elsewhere in the world, we have an obligation to help where we can. We help not only because of our ancient history as slaves in Egypt but also because of the experience of our immediate forebears — our parents and grandparents who were given entry into our country, escaping persecution. We know the blessing of open borders and those in this country willing to help. We also know the tragedy that befell Jews in our recent history, and the tragedy that this day befalls others when our borders are closed.  

Let us carry this message and the feelings of the stranger into our Pesach observance in this year of 5782.

Tue, May 24 2022 23 Iyyar 5782