To where do we go?
And from where do we come from?
Where are we right now?
Exodus 1.1 – 6.1
Isaiah 27.6 – 28.13; 29.22 – 23
What does this passage teach?
Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who knew not Joseph. And he said unto his people: ‘Behold, the people of the children of Israel are too many and too mighty for us; come, let us deal wisely with them, lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there befalleth us any war, they also join themselves unto our enemies, and fight against us, and get them up out of the land.’ Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh store-cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And they were adread because of the children of Israel.
What does not knowing Joseph have to do with Pharoah’s behavior? Also, why does the text say “knew not Joseph”? What does one have to do with the other?
Is Pharoah angry and evil here? Or is he just afraid? Do his actions make any sense to us?
Are there Pharoahs in your life? What makes them Pharoahs? Are these people mean and bullish, or oppressive and belittling? Do they flee responsibility for their actions while you clean up the mess? Are they obstacles to you doing what you want to do and being what you want to be? There are many people out there who fear their own shadow, and pale at their own reflection. How would they respond if they could actually see themselves?
Isaiah instructs us not to condemn, but to mourn.
When the boughs thereof are withered, they shall be broken off; the women shall come, and set them on fire; for it is a people of no understanding; therefore He that made them will not have compassion upon them, and He that formed them will not be gracious unto them.
Do these people sound at all evil or wrong, or deserving of this fate? Or do they just need all the help they can get?
There’s a wonderful book by Viktor Frankl. Man’s Search for Meaning. It’s a wonderful book and I highly suggest you read it. It’s Viktor’s account of life in the WW2 camps, and his encounters with people in them. Some were reduced to little more than animals, bereft of any understanding of humanity, driven by survival. Some became churlish, mercenary, working with the camps to make their own lives just a little easier. And others found it in themselves to say Shacharit, the morning prayers, with little more than scraps of newspaper and shoelace tefillin. How is this like our portion? What does this teach us?
Are we measured by our ability to adapt to survive? Or is our ability to weather oppression the catalyst that helps us to increase, to wax exceeding mighty?
My questions are: what is the difference between necessary and unnecessary suffering? How can you tell? How do you know when to quietly acknowledge or actively answer? And, how can we break the cycle, so that Pharoahs will dread no more this year?