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January 19, 1990 - Image 46

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-01-19

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

TORAH PORTION

Akira Nursery School

creates a
Loving, Positive, Jewish
Environment for Pre-Schoolers!
Featuring:

• flexible scheduling to meet the needs of
both parents and children
• full-day and half-day sessions
• lunch program
• Parent-toddler program
• "On My Own" — a new program for
21/2 to 2 year olds

New enrollment now being accepted!

for information call,
Beth Norman

Nursery Director

552-9690

Ask about our unique Nursery Tuition Rebate Program

HEBREW DAY SCHOOL
STOLLMAN EDUCATION CENTER
KARBAR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
LOEWENTHAL HIGH SCHOOL

F

Nyry rt.TY.,"

CONGREGATION B'NAI MOSHE

presents

A CABARET NIGHT
"WITH A SONG IN OUR HEARTS"

THE MUSIC OF
AMERICAN JEWISH COMPOSERS
SATURDAY, JANUARY 27, 1990 8 P.M.

featuring

Cantor Louis Klein
and The B'nai Moshe Shira Singers
Miriam Giesla — Flute
Lillian Zellman — Accompanist

Narrated by

Sharon Horwitz & Pearlena Bodzin
WINE & CHEESE RECEPTION FOLLOWING PROGRAM

Donation: $10.00 per person

FREE PISTON
TICKETS

NO OBLIGATION - STOP BY
AND ENTER DRAWING

ALL FRAMES
1/2 OFF

Win two tickets to see the Pistons
vs. Washington Bullets
January 31st. Stop by
any location to enter.
Drawing held
January 24, 1990.

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FRIDAY, JANUARY 19, 1990

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352-2806

How Israel Was Redeemed
Because Of Its Righteous Women

RABBI ARNIE SLEUTELBERG

0

ur weekly sedra, the
first in the book of
Exodus, begins with a
recapitulation of the names of
the 70 Israelite souls who,
because of the famine in the
land of Canaan, went to
Egypt. After this brief in-
troductory paragraph, the
story of our bitter enslave-
ment begins.
The text provides us with a
description of our first en-
counter with anti-Semitism.
Pharoah is the first to use
what almost every anti-
Semite has used since —
xenophobia, fear of strangers.
Wherever we have been,
wherever we have lived, the
rulers whipped up fear in the
masses and used it as a
weapon against us. The story
of our enslavement in Egypt
may have provided the argu-
ment used by every anti-
Semite since. Pharaoh said to
his people, "Look, the
Israelite people are much too
numerous for us. Let us deal
shrewdly with them, so that
they may not increase; other-
wise in the event of war they
may join our enemies in
fighting against us."
Was there any reason for
Pharaoh to believe that the
Israelites would rise up
against the native popula-
tion? We were living well
(keeping true to our way of
life), prospering (we had much
gold and silver), multiplying
(the Midrash tells us that our
women had sextuplets) and
living throughout the land
(we had spread well beyond
the region of Goshen, the on-
ly territory promised to
Joseph). We learn from the
Zohar that one of Israel's sins
was that we had become too
comfortable in Egypt and had
started to assimilate. Could
Pharaoh's fears have been
real, or were they a means of
creating millions of slaves
overnight? Is it possible that
we were too successful,
thereby engendering envy
and hostility? We need not
look back 3,500 years to find
other such examples: Rome,
Spain, Russia, Germany.

The text continues by
describing the severity of the
servitude and the various
population control measures
introduced by the Egyptians.
The fact that Pharaoh impos-

Arnie Sleutelberg is rabbi
of Congregation Shir Tikvah
in Troy.

ed birth control on the
Israelites (we learn from the
Midrash that the men were
taken from the camp and not
allowed to dwell with their
wives) would lead us to
believe that our sheer
number was indeed a problem
for Pharaoh. Of course, all of
Pharaoh's attempts at forced
birth control failed and the
Israelites continued to
multiply like swarming
creatures, according to the
Midrash.
In the midst of intense ser-
vitude, Moses was born. The
rabbis saw fit to teach that
the survival of the Jewish

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

people was wrought by God
through women. As we have
learned from the text, Israel's
women were fertile and
Pharaoh's plans were
thwarted by the midwives
and by Pharaoh's daughter,
who saved Moses at his birth
and subsequently in the river.
Later in his life, Moses was
saved by his wife. Thus, the
Midrash comments, "Israel
was redeemed because of its
righteous women." It is rare
for the rabbis to credit
women, yet here they are
given full tribute for our
survival.
Our saga continues as
Moses, while in the desert,
sees the burning bush, then
turns aside as God calls to
him: "Moses, Moses . . . do not
come closer. Remove your san-
dals from your feet, for the
place on which you stand is
holy ground." One interpreta-
tion is that even in a remote
place, even near a lowly thorn
bush, we can find God and
realize that we are standing
on holy ground. Whenever we
hear and heed God's com-
mands, we stand on holy
ground. In other words, com-
muning with God is not
necessarily a matter of runn-
ing to the nearest shul or slip-
ping a piece of paper in the
Wall. Rather, it is a matter of
being of the right attitude —
humble enough to take off
your shoes so that you can ac-
tually feel the holy ground.

As I write this d'var Torah,
in which the beginnings of
our servitude are recounted,
I cannot help but be cogni-
zant of Martin Luther King
Jr. Day, Jan. 15. For our

African-American brothers
and sisters, this day is as im-
portant as Passover is for us.
Just as we are commanded to
remember that we were
slaves in the land of Egypt,
African-Americans now have
the opportunity to remember
that they were slaves in the
land of America. Even in the
present day, the inequality,
the servitude of the poor in
this country, calls on each of
us to welcome the stranger,
befriend the homeless, help
the afflicted, for we must
remember that we have need-
ed help often. We most cer-
tainly remember the years
when virtually no one helped
us when we were slaves in the
land of Europe.
Let us not be guilty of our
own brand of xenophobia by
closing our eyes to the plight
of oppressed peoples. Let us
instead open our hearts and
our hands so that the day will
come when all God's children,
black and white, Jew and gen-
tile, Hispanic and Oriental,
people of all persuasions and
orientations, women and
men, along with all
persecuted minorities, will be
free at last, free at last — free
to live, free to love, free to
pray. Whenever we help, we
stand on holy ground. ❑

NMI

SYNAGOGUES I

Sisterhood Sets
Lunch Jan. 22

The Congregation B'nai
David Sisterhood will hold its
annual luncheon with Rabbi
Morton Yolkut noon Jan. 22
at the synagogue. The lunch
will be followed by an infor-
mal discussion and question-
and-answer period with the
rabbi. His topic will be
"Everything You Wanted to
Know but Were Afraid To
Ask."
Guests are welcome. There
is a fee. For reservations, call
B'nai David, 557-8210.

Beth Achim Hosts
Tu B'Shevat Meal

Congregation Beth Achim
will sponsor a family Tu
B'Shevat meal on Feb. 10
following Shabbat services at
the synagogue.
A festive meal will be serv-
ed, as well as the many grains
and fruits of Israel associated
with the holiday.
There is a fee and prepaid
reservations are required by
Feb. 6. Call the synagogue,
352-8670, for reservations.

C\

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