THE TORAH READING FOR 25 TEVET 5781 January 8-9, 2021
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur” pp. 677 and 516
OPEN UP OUR EYES
Open up our eyes, teach us how to live
Fill our hearts with joy and all the love You have to give
Gather us in peace
As You lead us to Your Name
And we will know that You are One.
FOR OUR COUNTRY
THUS SAYS ADONAI, This is what I desire: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of lawlessness; to let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, and take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, give clothing, and do not ignore your own kin.
O GUARDIAN of life and liberty, may our nation always merit Your protection. Teach us to give thanks for what we have by sharing it with those who are in need. Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation, and alert to the care of the earth. May we never be lazy in the work of peace; may we honor those who have [served, suffered or] died in defense of our ideals. Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion. Help us all to appreciate one another, and to respect the many ways that we may serve You. May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen.
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/shmot
Sh’mot (שְׁמוֹת — Hebrew for “Names”) – Exodus 1:1-6:1
These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each coming with his household: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah; Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin; Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. – Exodus 1:1-4
- The new king of Egypt makes slaves of the Hebrews and orders their male children to be drowned in the Nile River. (1:1-22)
- A Levite woman places her son, Moses, in a basket on the Nile, where he is found by the daughter of Pharaoh and raised in Pharaoh’s house. (2:1-10)
- Moses flees to Midian after killing an Egyptian. (2:11-15)
- Moses marries Zipporah, the daughter of Midian’s priest. They have a son named Gershom. (2:16-22)
- God calls Moses from a burning bush and commissions him to free the Israelites from Egypt. (3:1-4:17)
- Moses and Aaron request permission from Pharaoh for the Israelites to celebrate a festival in the wilderness. Pharaoh refuses and makes life even harder for the Israelites. (5:1-23)
From Wikipedia.org https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shemot_(parsha)#Haftarah
The haftarah for the parashah is:
- for Ashkenazi Jews: Isaiah 27:6–28:13 and 29:22–23
The parashah and haftarah in Isaiah 27 both address how Israel could prepare for God’s deliverance. Rashi in his commentary on Isaiah 27:6–8 drew connections between the fruitfulness of Isaiah 27:6 and Exodus 1:4, between the killings of Isaiah 27:7 and God’s slaying of Pharaoh’s people in, for example, Exodus 12:29, and between the winds of Isaiah 27:8 and those that drove the Reed Sea in Exodus 14:21.
The parashah and haftarah in Jeremiah 1 both report the commissioning of a prophet, Moses in the parashah and Jeremiah in the haftarah. In both the parashah and the haftarah, God calls to the prophet, the prophet resists, citing his lack of capacity, but God encourages the prophet and promises to be with him.
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH
From Wikipedia.org https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shemot_(parsha)
Shemot (שְׁמוֹת — Hebrew for “names”) – Exodus 1:1-6:1
“The [complete] parashah tells of the Israelites‘ affliction in Egypt, the hiding and rescuing of the infant Moses, Moses in Midian, the calling of Moses, circumcision on the way, meeting the elders, and Moses before Pharaoh.” As Rabbi Ruth Adar pointed out at the Temple Sinai Tuesday Morning Minyan earlier this week, the first chapter deals with men; and the second chapter, unique in Torah, is almost entirely about women.
In the triennial part of Shemot, Exodus 3:1-4:17, Moses is tending his father-in-law Jethro’s sheep on Mount Horeb when God speaks to him from a burning bush that is not consumed. Moses answers “hinëni” (here I am). God tells Moses that he is standing on holy ground and to remove his shoes. God self-identifies as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God tells him that God has heard the Israelites’ cry and is sending him to Pharaoh to bring them out of Egypt and to Canaan, a “land flowing with milk and honey”. Moses asks what to tell them when the Israelites ask who sent him. God responds, “’I Will Be What I Will Be’ (אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה, Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh), tell them that ‘I Will Be’ (אֶהְיֶה, Ehyeh) sent him”; that the Eternal One “(יְהוָה, YHVH), the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, had sent him, and this would be God’s Name forever.”
The reading continues with God instructing Moses what to tell the Israelite elders and three signs to work before Pharaoh. Moses pleads with God to send someone else, that he is “slow of speech”. God gets angry with him and tells him that “Moses’ well-spoken brother Aaron was coming to meet him, Moses would tell him the words that God would teach them, he would be Moses’ spokesman, and Moses would be like God to him. And God told Moses to take his staff with him to perform signs.”
In Modern Interpretation
“Reading Exodus 3:14–15, Robert Oden [past president of Kenyon College in Ohio and Carleton College in Minnesota] taught that God’s Name אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה, Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh, ‘I am Who I am’ or ‘I will be Who I will be,’ employed the first person singular form of the verb ‘to be,’ and then the four-letter Name of God, יְהוָה, YHVH, looks like the third-person masculine singular [causative] form of the verb ‘to be,’ as in ‘he who causes to be,’ which Oden argued was likely part of a longer epithet attached to the Canaanite god El, the high god of the Canaanites. Oden argued that Ehyeh was an alternate, early, ancient version of YHVH that came from a separate, likely Amorite dialect, and was thus the same name. Oden noted that in Exodus 3 and 6, God identified God’s self in relation to people — not a place. Oden posited that the occasion for the revelation of the four-letter Name of God, יְהוָה, YHVH, was the coming together of the 12 tribes of Israel as a new confederation (as described in Joshua 24).”
In Critical Analysis
“Some scholars who follow the Documentary Hypothesis find evidence of five separate sources in the parashah. These scholars see the bulk of the story as the weaving together of accounts composed by the Jahwist — (sometimes abbreviated J) who wrote in the south, in the land of the Tribe of Judah, possibly as early as the 10th century BCE — and the Elohist — (sometimes abbreviated E) who wrote in the north, in the land of the Tribe of Ephraim, possibly as early as the second half of the 9th century BCE.” [The parshah has evidence in it of the Priestly source and two separate Redactors as well.]
As noted above, God is a God in relation to people, not a place. That means that, like all relationships, our relation to God must be two-sided and requires cooperation – and implies that we can only know God in relation to one another. It also means that we must be willing to say, “Hinëni”, “Here I am”, as Moses does in Exodus 3:4.
Conservative Rabbi Emeritus Gershom Barnard in his Rosh Hashanah II 5770/2009 sermon “Hineni: Here I am” wrote: “The word ‘Hineni’ occurs 178 times in the Tanakh. In many of the instances, it has a routine sense, ‘Here I am doing such and such’. In some other cases, though, the word expresses, as it does in [the] story of the Akedah [binding of Isaac], the openness and responsiveness of someone [i.e., Abraham] to an urgent call. For example, when God called to Moses from the burning bush, Moses answered ‘Hineni’. When God first charged the prophet Samuel with his mission, Samuel answered, ‘Hineni’.” http://www.nhs-cba.org/RH2-HereIAm.htm
This last Wednesday evening, due to the day’s disturbing events at the United States Capitol, at the request of the President of Temple Kol Hamidbar we had a Healing Service in place of the scheduled movie. Across the board, many have pointed out the criminal and seditious nature of the events at the Capitol and elsewhere in the country, starting with the inciters, enablers and rioters. We saw demagoguery and fanaticism taken to extremes.
What happened is far from the ideals and values that this country was founded on and contrary to our Jewish values. Inciting insurrection based on falsehoods and acting on it is opposite of what “hinëni” represents. We need to open our eyes, regardless of party affiliation, and realign with our cherished ideals. “Hinëni” requires that we respond to one another with openness for our good and the good of all.
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of brutality, abuse, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, violence, and war; for all those at home alone; for all those in need of physical, emotional, and mental healing. “R’fuah sh’lëmah” – a complete recovery!
We say KADDISH YATOM for those of our friends and families who have died and been buried this last week; those in the period of Sh’loshim (30 days since burial); those who have died in the last year; and those whose Yahrzeits/Anyos occur at this time; as well as the victims of brutality, disease, COVID-19, natural disasters, war and violence. We remember, too, those victims of the Shoah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year and have us to say “Kaddish” for them. “Zichronam liv’rachah” – May their memories be for blessing.
TORAH STUDY AND SHAZOOM
We will meet as usual at the regular times for Torah Study and Shazoom this evening, Friday, January 8, 2021.
Zoom continues updating its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this evening:
Topic: Torah Study – Shemot (triennial part) Exodus 3:1-4:17
Time: Jan 8, 2021 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Jan 8, 2021 07:30 PM Arizona
To join the Torah Study and/or Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/72510500854?pwd=Z3VQZWF4U1BBZytNYmh3aHFTWkFDZz09
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
Hint: The last character of the password is the number zero.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat!