Thursday, December 26, 2013

Parshat Va-Era, Being God to Pharaoh

There is a great story about how a person's good deeds are the only true friends who will, who can, accompany him or her into the afterlife to intercede before the Heavenly Court in its judgement of one's soul.

We are taught in this week's parshah that Moses will be "like God to Pharaoh" in their dealings with each other.  God will make Moses His messenger, and Moses, who was worried if he was up to the job, will be successful for this reason.

Yet some translate it, understand it, not that Moses will be like God, but that Moses will be a "master" over Pharaoh.  It's not that God will do it for Moses - but God is saying that you, Moses, you do have the ability to accomplish with your own hands, with your own deeds, the deliverance the Jewish People so desperately need.

So often in life we can feel as if our own actions are not enough, that we can't possibly accomplish what needs to be done.  Yet these two lessons - about one's good deeds being one's true friends for all time, and about Moses having the strength himself to carry out God's mission for him - these stories teach us that we can, with persistence, and determination, accomplish a great deal, if we try.

I want to acknowledge how one small action taken by members of our congregation is making an impact for the better.  The other day, many of you signed a letter that has now been sent to heads of universities around the country who have either taken their institutions out of the American Studies Association, or have otherwise protested against the ASA's resolution to boycott Israel.

Already I have received back a number of kind letters from university presidents we wrote to thanking us for our support of them.  I want to let you know, you are making a difference!

And so don't stop.  Find out if your alma mater is a part of the ASA and whether or not it has taken appropriate steps to distances itself form the ASA's despicable policy.   Contact your schools to let them know they should take such steps if they haven't yet and thank them if they have already.

Our small deeds can and do make a difference.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Benson

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