New beginnings are often daunting and our weekly Torah portion, Shemot, is full of new beginnings.
For one thing, Shemot is the beginning of the second book of the Five Books of Moses. For another thing, Shemot is the beginning of the story of our people, as a nation. For the first time in the Bible, in Parashat Shemot, our people are referred to, in Hebrew, as: “Am” [nation].
And, there is more….In Shemot we read about the beginning of a “new administration” in Egypt. A new Pharoah arose, and sadly, the Torah tells us that the new Pharoah “lo yada et Yosef” [didn’t know Joseph]. For the first time, Pharoah looked upon our people as a threat to Egypt. And the story unfolds….
But, even the most daunting of new beginnings may contain the seeds of hope. And so, in Parashat Shemot, we read of the birth of Moses who would one day redeem our people from their enslavement in Egypt. We read of the midwives, Shifra and Puah, who defied Pharoah’s order and let the newborn Israelite boys live. We read of Moses’s mother, Yocheved, who did what it took to keep Moses alive. We read of Miriam, Moses’ older sister, who watched over Moses and later became a prophetess in her own right. We read of Pharoah’s daughter who adopted Moses when he was just a baby.
This Shabbat, the new beginnings in Parashat Shemot, resonate with the new beginnings in our own national history and in our Jewish communal and congregational life as well.
This Shabbat, as we recite the prayer for our country, for our leaders, and for our government, no matter where we stand on politics, we will all be praying for a future filled with hope.
As we celebrate Shabbat with our Shabbat School families, we will see the future of our people developing before our very eyes.
Rosh Chodesh Shevat will be a week from this Shabbat! This Shabbat, as we recite the blessing for the new month of Shevat, we will be looking forward to a new Jewish month filled with blessing, with health, and with peace.
And, we will have the privilege of naming a new granddaughter, born to a daughter and son-in-law of our congregants, Ron and Wendy Kleiman.
May all these seeds of hope flourish into a bright future for all good people everywhere.