Parsha: Shemos (2024)

Shemos (2024)


For thousands of years, the Jewish People have been looking to the Torah for insight and guidance through life’s ups and downs.

We also look specifically at the week’s Parsha itself for that insight. Sometimes its hard to find that message, sometimes it’s easier.

I would like to suggest that this week it wasn’t hard to find.

This week’s Parsha Shemot, describes one of the first times the Jewish people were oppressed as a people. The pretext for this oppression seems to be a familiar theme throughout history. Pharaoh says to his country,

“Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more numerous and stronger than we are.”

Pharaoh then concludes with a conspiracy theory about the Jewish people living in his land:

“Get ready, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they increase, and a war befall us, and they join our enemies and wage war against us and depart from the land.”

So, the oppression begins. The Egyptians begin to afflict and enslave the Jews. But here is the most amazing thing, that our enemies don’t realise about us as a people.

You see, as these hateful people continued to try to destroy us, the stronger and more united we became.

Verse 12 at the very beginning of the Book of Shemot (Exodus) makes it very clear:

“But as much as they (the Egyptians) would afflict them (The Jewish People), so did they multiply and so did they gain strength.”

That’s us! That is exactly how the Jewish people are, and always have been.

We see this today with our own eyes. The recent events in Israel have brought about more unity, strength, pride and identity amongst the Jewish people the world over. This can be confusing to an outsider.

Why would oppression and affliction, bring more strength to a people?

One answer is, that the Jewish people are compared to an olive. When you press an olive, the purest oil comes forth. The Purest part of the Jewish soul can shine the brightest in difficult times.

It is ideal that the strength of the Jewish people should come out in times of tranquillity and peace. We shouldn’t have to experience hardships for this.

However just like we have seen by our ancestors in Egypt the Jewish people are only strengthened when we are pressed. Lets begin this New Year with a new Mitzvah, something that shows we have “gained strength” in the face of adversity just like our ancestors.

Rabbi Zalman and Esty

Shabbat Shalom!