Here is another example for the every word counts department. Our Parasha Vaera begins with God’s explanation of why God will now unleash the forces necessary to free the Israelite slaves. Exodus 6:5 states in translation: “And also, I [God] have heard the groaning of the Israelites….” The word in Hebrew is the innocuous word “V’gam” meaning “and also.” The Rabbis ask “and also?” Who else heard the groaning of the Israelites that would cause God to act? “And also,” they say, refers to the fact that first the Israelites had to hear (Shema Yisrael) and care about the groaning of their fellow Israelites and not just about each individual’s own burden.
God did not just suddenly hear groaning that had not been heard before. God was moved by the love and compassion that was finally being showed among the people for each other. God heard all along, but redemption waited until those needing redemption cared about others as much as they cared about themselves.
Our faith teaches us that we are all connected and responsible for one another. Moses was selected as the quintessential leader of our people, qualified for the task mostly because he cared so much for the pain of others. He was raised in great wealth and splendor, but he was willing to sacrifice that to work to alleviate the pain and suffering of others.
The cries of pain and suffering in our world are unmistakable. There are problems of poverty, hunger and homelessness. Unfortunately, there are cries from women and children still enslaved in our world, near and far. Perhaps we hear so much of it that we have tuned it out. As we learned from Exodus 6:5 though, it is not enough to hear, we must also listen and act. If we do that, we can truly be partners in God’s work.
This is a SYNergy Shabbat at Adat Shalom Synagogue and we are privileged to welcome special guest Danny Siegel who has made a personal mission, not only of Tzedaka, but in inspiring others to engage in the critical work of Tzedaka and Tikkun Olam. Come to hear, listen and learn of opportunities to act. Download the SYNergy schedule from the Adat Shalom website for all the details.
This Shabbat we are also privileged to learn with Ruth Bergman who will be engaging us on the topic “Magic or Miracle? The 10 Plagues Re-examined.” 9:45 a.m. Come as you are. Stay as long as you like.
As always, there is something for everyone at Adat Shalom and even more so this Shabbat.