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The Egyptians Could Have Done Better
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Twelve Nisan The Torah makes Par’oh the foil to Moshe and Aharon, mentioning the Egyptian people only infrequently. This can give the impression that they were pawns of their evil king, suffering for something beyond their control. Ramban and others—who lived under monarchs, so that we’d have expected them to see how impossible it is […]
Failures On the Eve of Exodus and Its Aftermath
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Eleven Nisan What does it take to change a mindset? Commentators’ readings of Shmot confront us with this question, because they saw the Jews as clinging to their connection to Egypt and the Egyptians, to their old ways of looking at the world, displaying a remarkable immunity to learning from what they are seeing. I […]
Dragging Down the Redemption
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Ten Nisan The distance of history reassures us that as we list the failures of the generation that left Egypt, we will not be seen to be judging them or pretending any confidence we would have done better. We enumerate where they went wrong to teach ourselves how to avoid repeating the past, to make […]
Moshe Rabbenu’s Failures
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Eight Nisan Pointing out others’ failures can be an act of smugness. Or, as I hope it will be for us, it can be a reminder that it’s never easy, for any of us. Especially since we’ve just seen the greatness Moshe had at birth and then developed, seeing that he did not always manage […]
Moshe’s Successes in Egypt
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Seven Nisan The Exodus from Egypt gives us central questions to ask ourselves in life in general—how good are we at submitting to Hashem, when that’s what’s called for, and how good are we at contributing to Hashem’s plan for the world, in creative ways, when that’s what’s needed. Those questions also offer a convenient […]
The Needle to Thread in the Human/Divine Partnership
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Six Nisan It’s important not to exaggerate. For all that we’ve shown Hashem inviting our creative engagement with His world, for all that we will watch human players succeed or fail in the Exodus, there were other times when Hashem told us exactly how to act, and we had to obey exactly. To find the […]
The Human/Divine Partnership in the Exodus Story
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Four Nisan The more we see Hashem hide the supernatural, perhaps to leave room for freewill, good and bad, the more we are called to rethink our role in world events. Were there ever to be naked Divine intervention, there would be little room for human input; that Hashem left room even within the Exodus […]
Natural and Supernatural in the Rest of the Exodus
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Three Nisan We want the supernatural to declare itself, but our commentators see Hashem as hiding His presence sufficiently that even the most blatant miracles can be seen as natural. Looking outside the plagues for examples of that will remind us that part of the greatness of our forefathers and Patriarchs was their wisdom in […]