20 Shevat 5779 – Yitro

Delivering our message effectively

It is startling. We will read this week in Shule how the Jewish nation receives the Torah at Mount Sinai. Yet the very first word uttered by G-d to his people, Anochi – I – is an Egyptian one. Why would G-d use employ a foreign language?

I believe that through this word, G-d was imparting to the new nation, the most important skill that they would need to ensure the continuity of the Torah and Jewish nation.

As soon as G-d said “Anochi” in the Egyptian tongue, G-d entrusted Himself to His people which served to open their hearts to the rest of His message. You see, this entire generation of Jews had been born and raised in Egypt. That was what they knew so well. By employing this stroke of familiarly G-d showed them that, He, the All powerful creator, can come to the level of the people and speak their language. G-d demonstrated that He understood them – who they are and what they’ve been through.

If we are to be successful in transmitting our own values to our children and those closest to us, we must first know our audience and then articulate our message in a method suitable to that audience. Sometimes that will mean reframing our message or the delivery of that message in the terms and means most appropriate to that particular person or group. And living in our modern world, we ought to illustrate, ideally through our own experience, how our teachings and values translate to modern-day practice and the added value that they can bring to our everyday lives.

Shabbat Shalom to you and your families and I hope to see you in Shul.

Rabbi Yossi and Chana Raizel Friedman