Va’era 5777

Being freed – paradoxically – requires being free. Freedom is a process, not a binary. The exodus from Egypt could have been immediate, but a process has to occur within the enslaved people of Israel. First; faith in a future. Yet, “the people could not hear Moses, their spirits crushed by cruel work.” Physically releasing them will not heal crushed spirits, they need to have faith in themselves. In addition to real violence, slavery is sustained through people believing in their smallness. They must learn the fragility of their oppressors, the power of community acting together, their largeness. Tradition teaches that some Israelites themselves had slaves! The first commandment given to these people: free your own slaves, that you may be free.

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[Inspired by: Exodus 6, and Rabenu Behaye; Meshech Chochma on 6:13 ; Sichot Haran 140 and Elhanan Cherlow; Bob Marley’s Redemption Song; and the Jews and drunkards in Manet’s Le Vieux Musicien.]

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