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Change -- Chronicle Online/The WORD 01/19/23

Weekly On-line Rabbi's D'var-Torah

January 19, 2023

26 Tevet 5783

Parashat Va'era

You can have a change of heart or scenery. You can change your tune. But, apparently, you cannot change your spots. There’s climate change, social change, and time change—unless you live somewhere without Daylight Savings Time. It seems as though there’s lots of change going on all the time. In this week’s Torah portion, there were some BIG changes. Moses went from tending to his father-in-law’s animals to negotiating with the Pharoah about freeing the Hebrew slaves. Pharaoh went from invincible to vulnerable after seven plagues were brought down on Egypt. And the Hebrew slaves were getting ready to transition from oppression to freedom. One thing we learn about change in this portion is that it doesn’t necessarily happen quickly. Moses tried four times to turn down God’s offer of new employment. Even God could not force Moses to accept the fact that he was the right person for this job. It was a slow change. Pharaoh needed time to deal with the new reality of freedom for the Israelites. Furthermore, everyday Egyptians and the slaves themselves needed time to make sense of this impending big change as well. And so, God redeemed the Israelites in four stages. We know these four stages as they are the four verbs of redemption as described in our Passover Haggadah: God promised Moshe at the burning bush, "I will free you . . . I will deliver you . . . I will redeem you . . . I will take you." The original place of these four verbs is this week’s Torah portion—Exodus 6. Presumably, the all-powerful God could have freed the Hebrew slaves all at once. But, that’s not what God did. Now, some of us would have despaired after the first or second stage. We would have given up and assumed that God had actually forgotten us. However, God stayed the course and brought our ancestors from the slavery of Egypt to the Promised Land of Canaan. This is an important lesson for us to learn as we look at the world around us. There are big problems in our world in need of big actions on our part. However, bringing about the desired change always takes time. We can’t do it overnight. We might make a contribution to an organization, write a letter to the editor, volunteer some of our time to a worthy cause, and think we have had little or no impact. That would be a mistake, however. We must realize that our small acts combine together with the small acts of others to become larger and larger acts. So, whatever issue is keeping you up at night—and there are many to choose from these days—don’t give up! Together, we might just help that leopard change its spots after all! Shalom, RAF.

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