Not Getting Any Easier? – Rabbi B. on this Week’s Torah Portion

photo.1Welcome 2013!  A new year opens possibilities for new beginning.  A chance to reevaluate who we are and set new goals for the coming year is an opportunity not to let pass by.  The thought seemed really great over the holiday weekend, but I went back to work today and things seem more or less the same.  I already feel myself falling back into more or less the same old routine that I so much wanted to change!

This week’s Torah portion gives us advice as how to maneuver this challenge that so many of us are facing in this first week of the New Year.  The book of Shemot begins by telling us a count of the Jewish people that went down to Egypt.  Our commentators point out though that the Torah in fact just gave us the same exact count two weeks ago, to which many explain that then the Torah was counting the Jews as they went into Egypt and now we are being counted as we are going out.  This as a sign of how precious the Jewish people are to God as they are compared to stars that are counted by name as they come out at night, and again as they disappear in the morning.

A beautiful explanation, the only trouble is that the Jews are not yet coming out of Egypt.  In fact, right after we are told about the increased hardships the Jews face in Egypt.  What it the Torah telling us?

The truth is that this is the beginning of the exodus from Egypt, but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be challenges and hardships along the way.  Although the process of redemption has begun, the suffering first becomes a bit more intense before the real relief is seen.

As we endeavor to make the new year different from last, we must understand that there may be challenges along the way.  We should persevere and realize that it is through those challenges that we will grow and ultimately reach our goals.

Wishing everyone a wonderful and prosperous 2013.  Shabbat Shalom

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