This week we continue reading the story of the Israelites’ slavery in Egypt, eventually leading up to the Exodus. In this week’s portion we read of the first seven of the ten plagues.
One of Judaism’s foundational values is showing loving-kindness to those in need. Loving-kindness towards others is central to the Exodus story as well: Moses serves as our role model in this and many regards. We see him caring for afflicted Israelites, afflicted Midyanites, and even caring for animals. Even with the oppressive slavery the Egyptian rulers impose on the Israelites, we see Moses begging with Pharaoh to “let my people go”, so God will not inflict further plagues and suffering on the Egyptians. Moses saw the value of life in even his most seemingly unrelatable neighbours, a level of humanity we must all aspire to.
Following the Exodus, we are commanded to be kind to strangers “for you were once strangers in the land of Egypt.” We are to remember the compassion of Moses and never turn away from the needs of others, for we once had those needs ourselves. And in caring for strangers, they cease to be merely strangers. We establish new friendships and grow into a larger, more connected community.
It is in this spirit that we celebrate our congregation’s involvement in Out of the Cold, and are pleased to welcome Out of the Cold leadership, clients, and volunteers this Shabbat. Being able to contribute meaningfully to the connectedness of our community is a real source of pride. May we always merit to make positive impacts on those around us! May the observance of one mitzvah lead us to observe many, many more!