Art by Yitzchok Schmukler
A WEEKLY TORAH THOUGHT FROM RABBI MORDY
Ok, I’ll admit, this week’s Parsha (Bo) is a favorite of mine. It contains the last three Plagues to befall the Egyptians and then begins detailing the Jewish People’s liberation from Egypt. Certainly monumental in that this was the moment this band of slaves and vagabonds became a true nation with a free mindset. And there needed to be a bit of a cleansing process, psychologically, to get them out of the slave mentality. It has been noted that one can take a man out of slavery but it is far more difficult to take slavery out of a man. So G-d gives them several commands to try and shift that mindset. One is the concept of the Passover Sacrifice. It required a lamb which was a god of Egypt; by slaughtering it, the Jewish people would become emboldened and get accustomed to standing up for themselves. And then we have another command, that of creating the Jewish calendar. This hybrid of the solar and lunar calendars ignores neither the sun (as, say, the Muslim calendar does) nor the moon (as the Gregorian calendar does). There is specific focus here on the moon as it relates to the Jewish people. How? Because the moon, unlike the sun, is less consistent; the sun comes up every morning and sets every night (unless you’re in Pittsburgh in which case you haven’t seen it since November). The moon, by contrast, waxes and wanes. It has good days and bad days. Nights on which it glows in majesty and others during which it can barely be seen or is completely hidden. And yet, it will return, dependably. Some nights may go by, but on the 15th of every Jewish month, the moon will shine brightly. And on the first of the following cycle, it will be back to apparent nothingness.
So what is the significance here?
We have to realize, as the Jewish people did upon their exit from Egypt so long ago, that life is similar to the moon. There will be moments of extreme joy, like exodus from slavery, but they likely will be followed by difficult ones. So too, we may be going through dark days, but let us be rest assured that brighter days will follow. Wherever we are in life, we can all take comfort in embracing this cycle; everything in life is an opportunity to take lessons and make the most of each moment!
This Shabbos, we commemorate seventy-three years since the Lubavitcher Rebbe took over the mantle of leadership from his father-in-law, known as the Previous Rebbe. The Rebbe assumed this leadership role in 1951, just a few short years after the Jewish world was decimated by the Holocaust. The Rebbe looked to build a Jewish future—focusing on those brighter days ahead and not remaining entrenched (while, of course, not forgetting) in the dark days that had just passed. The Friendship Circle, and countless other Jewish institutions were founded through his direct and indirect inspiration which serves as a testament to the impact this perspective can have. We have to believe that the dark days facing the Jewish people today are a similar bump on this long road—painful but not permanent!
May we celebrate better and brighter days ahead and may this Shabbos bring us all the ultimate peace, joy and comfort! Good Shabbos!