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January 23, 1987 - Image 24

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-01-23

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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imilmommem. ■ 1

Mimicing The Ancients
In Freedom's Struggle

MORTON YOLKUT

Special to The Jewish News

T

he story of freedom
then, and the freedom
story now, are all one
story, the story of man's relent-
less struggle against dictator-
ship and tyranny. The names
change, the locales vary, but
the story remains the same.
Consider an interesting
comment on our sages on this
week's Torah portion and
apply it to what is happening
in our time to see how history
repeats itself.
The sages notice a nuance in
this week's sidra from which
they derive an important and
timely lesson. Moses is told by
God: "Go and gather the elders
of Israel . . . and declare to
them that I shall bring you
forth out of the oppression of
Egypt . . . and they will listen
to you and then you must go,
you and the elders to Pharoah
. . ." (Exodus 3:16-18).
Moses accordingly convenes
the elders of Israel and tells
them the news that God has
heard the cries of the Israel-
ites, that God cares about them
and that he will redeem them
from bondage. How was he re-
ceived?-"And the people be-
lieved . . . they kneeled and
bowed" (4:31). The elders are
apparently inspired, even over-
joyed, by the good tidings.
Subsequently, "Moses and
Aaron and the elders set out to
confront Pharoah. But then the
text says: "Moses and Aaron
came and said to Pharoah . . ."
(5:1).
Something is missing in the
text: not a word about the el-
ders of Israel being a part of
this delegation. What hap-
pened to the elders? The Mid-
rash says: "They started out to
accompany Moses and Aaron,
but the closer they got to the
palace the more apprehensive
they became, and so one by one
they dropped out along the way
until only Moses and Aaron
were left at the end" (Shemot
Rabbah 5:14).
Picture the drama of that
ancient scene: Moses and
Aaron, two elderly men, with-
out an army, without military
weapons, without any kind of
real support, stand before the
mighty empire of Egypt. Two
against a super-power. They
stand there alone, and yet, not
completely alone, for one man
together with God and the
truth comprise a majority.
That scene of our Torah por-
tion is as real and as relevant
as today's newspapers. We see
these two and we think of their
counterparts in our time. We
think of Natan Shcharansky
who stood alone before his
Soviet judges, and spoke to
them with such courage and
defiance, and who said to them:
"You may do what you wish to
me. To you I have nothing to
say! But to my dear wife Avi-
tal, I send this message: Next
year in Jerusalem." Because
Shcharansky had the courage

of a Moses and an Aaron he will
soon mark his first anniver-
sary of residence in Jerusalem
with Avital and their new
daughter.
We also think of the hun-
dreds of thousands of other re-
fuseniks who have been haras-
sed and arrested for the crime
of wanting to live as Jews or
leave as Jews. We read of their
heroic struggles and we see a
replay of what we read in the
Midrash. We see it happening
again in our time: Truth speak-
ing to Power, alone, and yet not
afraid.
It is our task here to make
sure that these people do not
feel alone and isolated and

Shabbat Shemot:
Exodus 1:1-6:1
Isaiah 27:6-28:13,
29:22-23 ■

abandoned when they speak
out with so much courage. We
must identify with them, and
we must let them know, and let
the Russian government know,
that we care about them and
feel their pain.
In the distant past, centuries
ago and in another part of the
world, we see the figures of
Moses and Aaron standing be-
fore Pharoah, alone, unarmed,
and yet unafraid. And in the
immediate present, nearer to
us in time, we see the figures of
the Prisoners of Zion, their de-
scendants, standing like them
before a powerful and cruel
government with equal cour-
age in their hearts.
Let us resolve that we will
not be like the elders in the
Midrash. We will not drop out
one by one along the way. We
will be with them, caring about
them, until freedom comes and
the Pharoahs of our times "let
our people go."

Hadassah Goes
To Zaire

Kinshasha (JTA)
An Is-
raeli hospital administrator
has arrived in Zaire's. capital
city to organize operation of
the nation's newest medical
facility — a new hospital being
built jointly by a local Chris-
tian sect, the United States
Agency for International De-
velopment and Hadassah.
Eli Mor, administrator of the
Hadassah-University Hospital
in Jerusalem, will lead the
Kinshasha hospital's staff of
157 medical and support per-
sonnel through the early
stages of its operations over the
next 30 months. The facility
occupies seven buildings on the
site of a small hospital run by
the Kimbanguist Church and
will serve about 150,000 Kin-
shasha residents.

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