Rabbi Hillel Skolnik’s Torah Spark for Parashat Sh’mot 5778 – Weekend of January 5, 2018

Rabbi Hillel Skolnik’s Torah Spark for Parashat Sh’mot 5778 – Weekend of January 5, 2018

This Shabbat we read from Parashat Sh’mot which kicks off the story of the Exodus from Egypt. But before the people can be freed from slavery they must become slaves in the first place, a transformation which is surprising considering how powerful and famous Joseph was in Egypt. It would be difficult to believe that his descendants would become slaves in the same country he almost single handedly saved. The Torah explains to us that this is able to happen with a new Pharaoh who “did not know Joseph” (verse 8). Yet even that is difficult to fathom considering the minimal passage of time and the fact that Joseph surely played a large part in the written history of Egypt during the times of feast of famine. What Rashi – one of the most famous Torah commentators – explains to us is that this Pharaoh pretended to not know Joseph, and thus was able to enslave the Israelites. This small but significant moment within the Torah reminds us just how dangerous it is to ignore the facts of history. We all have the power to insure that events are remembered correctly which will in turn allow our society to draw the correct conclusions and learn the appropriate lessons. It is when we ignore what actually happened and choose to exist instead in a made up world that we run the risk of condemning others to a life of slavery, just as we were enslaved all those years ago.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Hillel Skolnik