Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose… as we might say in Canada. In Egypt, Pharaoh struggles to maintain and hold his power, even as his sorcerers are no match for Moses, aided by the Divine One. And just as the ancient Israelites may have lost sight of the covenant promised to their ancestors, they will rediscover and renew that covenant once they leave Egypt and stand at Sinai.
Many of us have Jewish and non-Jewish family members; all of us have non-Jewish friends. How do we honour ourselves and perhaps our non-Jewish family members whilst not negating our own identities as Jews during collisions of holidays? What has often been labelled “the Jewish dilemma,” hangs in the air. How many times were we wished Happy Hannukah on Christmas Day? However, these days I think of this conjunction as less a dilemma and more of a balance, as most of us enjoy favourite foods and holiday traditions with each other. We have a robust tradition with faith and practices that fill our calendars. And just as those traditions have evolved, so have we, even as we have passed on particular traditions to our children, often without necessarily even knowing the origins of such an inheritance.
Teaching the Introduction to Judaism classes and overseeing conversion candidates in their second year of study is always an opportunity for me to deepen my own learning, and hold with tremendous kavod, honour, my own place in Judaism. These people, in our midst, are learning new traditions, cooking new foods, and sharing these new traditions with their family members. They are finding joy in this new relationship with Judaism, with Jews and with God.
Vayera teaches us that even in times of darkness, the One Who is called Ehyeh asher Ehyeh, I will Be Who I Will Be, is with us. In our own becoming we are renewed. In the darkness of Egypt faith in the One was restored and re-ignited, plague by plague, miracle by miracle. Our becoming is not a dilemma, but always a renewal. May we all be blessed with our own becoming this year.
Love to all,