Torah from Around the World #3

By: Rabbi Burt E. Schuman,

Beit Warszawa

Foundation, Warsaw Poland.

The Courage to Struggle

Imagine that you have been chosen to lead a struggle for the freedom and self-determination of your people against a seemingly all-powerful and invincible foe.  Like the leaders of the great human rights struggles of the last century, you have nothing in your arsenal but a profound belief in the promises of a liberating God, the courage to confront your oppressor and the ability to galvanize and mobilize your people through the “signs and wonders” of incremental victories.

This is indeed the situation that Moses faces at the beginning of Parashat Va-era. God has established a relationship with Moses unlike that of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs because he will become God’s instrument for fashioning Israel into a nation. In Exodus 6: 6-7, God makes four promises to Moses and the Israelites that are symbolized by the four cups of wine at the Pesach Seder: freedom from hard labor, delivery from bondage, redemption through miraculous displays of God’s power, and betrothal as God’s people.

The struggle will be long and arduous. The Israelites do not listen to him because they are deprived of hope. Moses doubts his own ability to confront Pharaoh because of his “uncircumcised lips”. Pharaoh will prove an incredibly stubborn and intransigent foe. This, however, is the essence of the struggle.  We must cultivate the ability to believe in God’s promise, share a vision of the future and have faith in our potential to accomplish change.

Questions for Discussion

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