Va'era - Weekly Torah Portion


this week we viewed with excitement as kings, princes, prime ministers and presidents that made their way to participate in the events of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day that took place in Jerusalem, hosted by president Rivlin. Moving speeches were delivered, and much was said. Maybe if only half of them were made in the thirties of the twentieth century, and real deeds would have taken place, we would have spared an unimaginable number of human lives. Not from our nation that was deprived of six millions of us, but also from other nations that joined the fight. The voice of leaders was almost unheard, unspoken, and the bill was served to the youngsters who fought throughout the world to save it from the wickedness that was aiming to consume the world.

In this week’s Haftarah from the book of Ezekiel, the prophet says, “Thus says the Lord God, ‘When I gather the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and will manifest My holiness in them in the sight of the nations, then they will live in their land which I gave to My servant Jacob. They will live in it securely; and they will build houses, plant vineyards and live securely’”. This is exactly the opposite of what happened during the horrifying years of the Holocaust. Long and bitter years when our people were slaughtered and many other lost their lives too. The president of Germany was right when he noted in his speech at Yad VaShem that he was sorry to say that his nation has not learned the lesson as is evident by the fact of the rising hatred and racism that is engulfing the continent. The problem is that where there are those who promote racism and bigotry, there are also those who pay a dear price for such acts. However, the day comes that the hater, the bigot and the racist pay the price too.

Even when there is a leader who is willing to say something not always will that leader be heard. This is even if the leader has some good arguments to make. In the portion of the Torah we read this week we find, “Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Go, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the sons of Israel go out of his land.’ But Moses spoke before the Lord, saying, ‘Behold, the sons of Israel have not listened to me; how then will Pharaoh listen to me, for I am unskilled in speech?’” Moses puts a mirror before the Israelites, offers them a real alternative, but they, may be in distress, do not comprehend his message and its opportunities. It is therefore not a surprise that he complains to God that he simply does not have the toolbox to handle this situation.

When Moses repeats this for the second time he gets a tool that can help him. “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh’”. If on one hand there is a terrific force that can pull its weight in a Godly manner, on the human side it is necessary to develop a team work if meaningful results are desired. Aaron can be a prophet but cannot hear the word of God, that is his weakness. Moses can hear the word of God but is unable to find the inner strength to deliver these words to the Pharaoh at that stage. Combining forces this is what makes the success of the mission possible. Standing straight before the king and demanding, “Let my People go!”

Today we are certainly not living times comparable to the exodus from Egypt. The horrors of the Holocaust drove fast the process of the declaration of the State of Israel, a cause that the Zionist Movement has been moving forward since the first World Zionist Congress back in 1897. Maybe we are not yet as claimed by the prophet “live securely” but there should be no doubt that our status of today is better than which it was for the past two millennia, maybe more. Today’s challenges are different. They certainly include security challenges from close and far away enemies, some tactical threats, others of a strategic nature. To handle those we are, once again, for the third time with in a year, in the process of electing a Knesset and a government.

With that said, we also have some internal challenges, which are not simple nor can the dealing of which be postponed if we want to live securely. The Israel Reform Movement took upon itself to handle a portion of these challenges that include the promotion of pluralism between the religious streams, equality between the citizens of Israel, and the eradication of racism and bigotry. The Movement calls upon the leader of the state to use as guidance the spirit of our prophets and apply also the necessary steps required to run a modern state in modern times. On the other hand we are a non-partisan organization. Therefore, if we want to promote our Reform and Progressive values in Israel we must operate using other tools from the toolbox and the World Zionist Congress is certainly of paramount importance.

The elections in the USA for the 38th World Zionist Congress have begun earlier this week and shall continue until Purim. In order to gain influence in the WZC and its affiliate organizations we must use work as a team, together with our overseas friends to bring as many voters as possible to the ballot suggesting that they support the political arm there, ARZA. In the past few days e-mails went out outlining some information about the WZC, how it impacts our work, and how to vote. Make sure you USA based family members, friends and acquaintances who may vote, do that. Through those National Institutions we can expand our reach and have more influence to promote, defend and fund out values here in Israel. Land a supporting hand and lets us together make it a huge success!

Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov.

Reuven Marko, 17 January 2020, 21 Tevet, 5780

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