This week, we begin reading Shemot, the second of the five books of the Torah. It begins by telling us that there was a new Pharaoh over Egypt who did not know Joseph. Instead of remembering the guidance, the support, and the help that Joseph and the Israelites had provided Egypt during what could have been a difficult period and a devastating famine in Egypt, this Pharaoh became paranoid and threatened by them. He abused his power, forced them into servitude, and dictated that all their male children be killed. Forgetting Joseph in the past, taking his position of privilege for granted, led to the suffering of not only the Israelites, but the downfall of the Egyptian army as well.
As much as I wish that I could remove the images of the Confederate flags being waved through the halls of the Capitol building, I will never forget them. But I don’t necessarily think that is a bad thing. This is because, as Pharaoh learned the hard way, we need to remember. I never thought that something like that could happen here, in the United States. We owe it to ourselves and our future to remember the good, the bad, and the ugly. Remembering will ultimately enable us to prevent ourselves from making the same mistakes; it will help us learn and grow. It is the only way we can move forward.
Unlike Pharaoh, may we always remember, so that we can emerge from some of our darkest moments and experiences, with the strength and the wisdom we need, to do better and be better in the future.
Wishing us all a Shabbat Menucha and a Shabbat Shalom, A Shabbat of rest, of comfort, and of peace,
Rabbi Josh Dorsch