Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

Parashat Bo: Think differently about relating to others and rebellious ones

Our portion of the week opens, in the second verse (Exodus 10:2), with the reason for the Ten Plagues. You might have thought that they are to punish the Egyptians and to teach them a lesson. But it says very clearly: So that you – the Jews – will know that I’m G^d. First-and-for-all, it’s a Revelation for us.

The same verse touches on something else that is important to realize. We don’t best remember things by thinking, reading or hearing them. We memorize things best by saying them. Not when you see or hear My Miracles and not when you hear about them but when you relate the story.

Teaching is more important than learning because that way, we better retain the learning. And, as a rabbi confessed in the forward to his collection of sermons: When you’re preaching, it’s hard not to overhear yourself. It just penetrates deeper into our being when we talk about it to others.

The Jewish religion makes us do that all the time. Our twice-a-day profession of faith, we are saying to the whole of the Jewish People: Shema’ Yisrael (Deuteronomy 6:4). We don’t just read it or even just say it out-loud – we tell it – as it is – to all Jews. We testify – the first and the last letter (extra large in the Torah scroll) of the six-word Shema’ spell testimony in Hebrew.

In our trice-a-day prayers, we talk to G^d. We don’t just contemplate or just declare – we approach. The question should be asked, why don’t we just say these things to ourselves? Two more reasons.

When you promise something to people you love, your commitment is much stronger. When you speak to some-One you care about, your words get more meaning than if you would just say something to yourself.

There may be an additional reason why we don’t just pray or confess in isolation. Loneliness is one of our greatest enemies. All people are already told early (Genesis 2:18) that it’s not good to be alone – with our evil inclination. But, in addition, by necessity, Jews must be a small People (Deuteronomy 7:7) that dwells alone (Numbers 23:9) – not to assimilate – ourselves or our mission, to be a Kingdom of Ministers, a Holy (meaning: separate) People (Exodus 19:6).

Therefore, we do ourselves a favor when we don’t just speak of what is dear to us only to ourselves but when we declare our convictions and mindset to others we love.

Say it to your children and children’s children so that you may know that I am G^d.


In one verse (Exodus 10:9) we find the verb “we will go” twice. A clever boy in my shul asked why. This question must be asked. How could we read this and not ponder that?! One could further easily wonder why it first says youngsters and elderly – what do they have in common – and what commonality is there in our sons, our daughters, our flock and our cattle?

My simples answer is that giving two groups who will leave is dramatically very different from just giving one whole slew. The latter sounds like bragging; the former is a double whammy. That’s the simplest answer I got.

A deeper simple answer lies in the Hebrew for with. It doesn’t say Eem; it says Be-. Like earlier (in Genesis 15:14), the Torah uses Be- when Abraham gets promised that we will leave captivity in great wealth. It means that these groups will not walk out – they will be [as if] taken, like things. And that, sons, daughters, flock our cattle may have in common. They can be taken. They know how to obey.

But  youngsters and the elderly are the opposite. The former have their newly found autonomy and the latter don’t think that anyone should still tell them what to do – compare the beginning of verse Genesis 48:19. They decide for themselves.

Now, we know that the story of the Exodus doesn’t only describe the way we left Egypt but also predicts how we will leave at the final Redemption – may it be soon. We are told here that not only will the rebellious ones be there – they will lead the pack!

Just think about that, next time someone talks derogatorily about rebellious Jews!

About the Author
The author is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (DES - Diethylstilbestrol), born in 1953 to two Dutch Holocaust survivors in The Netherlands (Westerbork), and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a vegan for 8 years now. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach and lehavdiel bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo and Rav Zev Leff. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science, Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism), Oppression and Liberation (of young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, GLBTQAI, foreigners, and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Many people can't understand or like him because he has such a wide vision that he never fits any specialist's box. But that exactly what others love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quit a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500st blog post with the ToI. * He likes doing age-appropriate and age-inappropriate things and looks forward to getting to know his timeless mature out-of-the-box soul mate. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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