This week’s Torah portion of Bo describes the debilitating impact of the ninth plague of darkness. In fact the text states that there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days. One of the interpretations that the commentator Rashi provides for the degree of darkness was in order that the Egyptians did not see the number of Jews who actually choose to remain in Egypt. It is hard to fathom if you are Hashem why any of your children would choose to remain in Egypt – and choose servitude over freedom? But the question each of us these days has to ask ourselves is where are we choosing to remain?
These are indeed frightening days of darkness as storm clouds seem to engulf the news from the horrific takeover in Washington to the uncertainly of the toll that Corona keeps taking on the lives of our people.
There is always a connection between the lessons in the Torah and the events in our lives and this week contains dates and people who offer by their own example that we can choose light over darkness.
Martin Luther King – A Dream for Light
Today in the states is the observance of Martin Luther King Day – a courageous civil rights activist who had one dream – to emerge from darkness to the light of emancipation.
Here are the words of his dream
Regrettably he was assassinated for his beliefs and never got to see the realization of his dream – but he became a legend in his times and gave hope for the disenfranchised.
The Tenth of Shevat
This coming Shabbat also marks a milestone day – the Tenth of the month of Shevat – a day among Chabad Chassidim and many others that is one of reflection, inspiration, prayer, and positive resolutions.
In an article titled “10 Shevat” the significance of the day is described below:
“Seventy-one years ago—Shevat 10 on the Jewish calendar—upon the passing of the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, of righteous memory, leadership of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement passed on to his illustrious son-in-law, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory. In the decades that followed, the Rebbe revolutionized, inspired and guided the post-Holocaust transformation of the Jewish people that continues to this day.
This day, so relevant to every Jew in our generation, is surely a day for reflection, learning, prayer, positive resolutions and acts of loving-kindness.”
In the book Social Vision – The Lubavitch Rebbe’s Transformative Paradigm for the World by Philip Wexler, the author states that “Schneerson wanted to reenchant the world. He wanted to reenchant and resacralize the everyday experiences, practices and interactions of all people, everywhere.
The author continues:
“Schneerson’s vision was fundamentally optimistic, aspirational and global. ..Schneerson envisioned a dynamic state of joyous reciprocity. He maintained that individuality is enhanced through contribution to the collective, rather than compromised thereby. “A feeling of true happiness comes to a person when he is able to do something for the good of another… every creation, if only it acts in concert with its telos, is not merely a recipient but also a giver.” Schneerson upheld a deep-set faith that without eliminating difference we can yet achieve a peaceful, harmonious, universal life for all of humanity.[i]
The Rebbe’s initiative in 1986 of Sunday dollars attracted people of all persuasions and race. The idea was simple to encourage people to give charity that would benefit a third person.
Here is a short explanation from the words of the Rebbe z”l himself
Out from the Darkness – Hope for our New Married Couples
Using these two men as role models of the “possible” – to find the light in the midst of darkness, it is time that we as a society take a page off of their scripts. We need to put aside the acrimony and rhetoric of hatred and find the “hope and light.” We have an obligation to seek opportunities for reciprocity and helping others towards positivity and unity and harmony.
Project Chayei Sarah
Our amuta introduced Project Chayei Sarah in a prior blog – with its mission to create initiatives for spreading marriage education to Israeli society.
On February 9 we are launching our first initiative – “Let’s Start the conversation about ..Marriage Education and Prenuptial Agreements.”
The initiative is specially an appeal for involvement and activism on the part of “Ambassadors” comprised of the Village of groups who have a stake in the future of couples – Rabbis and Rabbaniot, chatan and kallah teachers, parents and grandparents, dating and engaged and newlywed couples and the general public
The community event is hosted by:
Project Chayei Sarah under the auspices of Amuta Together in Happiness/B’Yachad B’Osher
The Givat Sharett Chesed Committee Simcha Gemach in memory of Feigel bat Tuvia Nisan z”l (Beit Shemesh)
In partnership with
IYIM International Young Israel Movement & the Jewish Agency
Rabbinical Council of America – Israel
The event is intended to achieve a number of objectives:
- To demonstrate the unity of Jewish organizations coming together for the purpose of celebrating the union of couples getting married
- To appeal to the Village to join and become Ambassadors for undertaking marriage education related initiatives for the benefit of our new couples
- To offer hope to couples that there are tools in the form of marriage education and prenuptial agreements available for supporting their commitment to each other and as part of society.
The event will take place on Zoom Tuesday February 9/27 Shevat from 8PM – 9PM
The link for registration is:
Time to Unite
It is imperative that we seize opportunities to emerge from the days of darkness expressed in the Torah portion and not allow ourselves to remain in the pits of “Egypt”
Help us spread the light in the days ahead – and emerge victorious in having our own dreams ignited for love and harmony and shalom. We must take the lessons from the role models who exemplified all the qualities of goodness and the promotion of peace and generosity. There is no question that the Moshiach is coming – we just have to do our part.
[i] Philip Wexler. Social Vision. New York. The Crossroad Publishing Company.2019.pp228-230