By Rabbi Steven Bayar
Happy New Year!
There is an interesting confluence between our incoming secular New Year and this week’s Torah portion: Shemot. In this parsha, the first portion in the book of Exodus, a new Pharaoh arises who “did not know Joseph.” It is a new era for the Jews in Egypt. They will become slaves; disenfranchised and without control over their lives. Yet from this beginning will rise a Jewish people who leave Egypt in ruins, beginning a journey which will take them to Mount Sinai and beyond to the Promised Land.
Similarly we begin a New Year. For what we are told is the happiest time of the year there are a remarkable number of people depressed and seemingly without hope. Perhaps this parsha comes to teach us that we can must never lose hope; no matter what the circumstance we always have the potential to grow and learn. Growth is not without pain — but growth is the only antidote to pain. When faced with obstacles that threaten to overwhelm, growth gives us the perspective and the ability to see the bigger picture and place ourselves firmly within it.
So with Moses this week. He starts out as a prince of Egypt and falls to the lowliest of fates: A shepherd in Midian only to rise and become the one person who can take Israel out of Egypt. He grows into his role as savior. Let Moses be our role model for this coming year.