Sh’mot (Exodus 1:1-6:2) You Never Know When Your Moment Will Arrive


            So, we come to the Book of Exodus and the famous beginning that a new Pharaoh arose who did not know Joseph. This begins the story of Egyptian slavery. We meet the heroines who saved young Moses. The text quickly telescopes time to bring us the events of the killing of the taskmaster, Moses’ assimilation and eventually his “call” (Ex. 3).

            SO many questions in this portion. What was it that was triggered in Moses that made him strike the Egyptian. Like Joseph in Genesis, can you ever deny your family or origin? The burning bush image as well elicits similar questions as with Jacob’s ladder: we hear the call of the divine only when we are ready to receive it.

            That is something I wish to raise this week. When are we ready to hear that “call”? Many go through their whole life never hearing it, or even listening for it. Some deny it when they hear it. Are we always ready to receive that sacred calling? It may not be a dramatic “aha” moment. More than likely, as many of us have experienced, it is a slow developing feeling that something is different in my life and soul, and I need to pay attention to it.

            Perhaps at that moment, Moses, was ready to receive that message. Maybe years earlier it would not have made sense, much like advice our parents gave us when we were younger that only in maturity do we fully understand. Life experience again is a great teacher. In that vein, a message that we can draw from this portion is that we can always be open to the new, the surprises of life. The miracles of everyday life, as expressed in the prayer service, remind us that we need to be open to the miracles of existence. Life is so precious that we need to be open to the awe and amazement of living.

            Or, to channel Heschel: “Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement…get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed”

Shabbat shalom

Rabbi Richard F Address

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