As we read the first chapters in the book of Exodus this Shabbos, our country has ushered in a new set of leaders. A day that once seemed impossibly far off, a surreal and distant unlikelihood, has arrived. I’m always astounded by the parallels between Torah and life, and especially so right now.

The Torah tells of the descent of Egypt; from a good country with decency at its core– that took in immigrants like Joseph and his brothers– into to a morally corrupt country, led by a greedy and narcissistic Pharaoh who slandered minorities, spread misinformation to justify policies to reduce them, and ultimately oppress and enslave them. (I know it might sound like I’m spinning this for dramatic effect, but that’s literally what happens in Chapters 1-3 of our Torah reading tomorrow.)

Generally when Jews tell the story of the Exodus, we identify ourselves with the Israelites, remembering slavery, yearning for freedom. But I want to suggest that today in America we are the Egyptians– not Pharaoh G!d forbid, rather the ones who stand poised either to follow the decrees of our rulers, because we’re tired, because we’re not in the direct line of fire… or to resist, even to risk our privilege in the system, like Shifra and Pu’ah, the Hebrew midwives, who refused to slaughter Israelite babies despite Pharaoh’s decree.

So… right now I’m asking myself, who will I be in the story?


In his classic book Exodus and Revolution, Michael Walzer writes, “We still believe, or many of us do, what the Exodus first taught… about the meaning and possibility of politics: first, that wherever you live, it is probably Egypt; second, that there is a better place, a world more attractive, a promised land; and third, that the way to the land is through the wilderness. There is no way to get from here to there except by joining together and marching“.

May we be the midwives of goodness, decency, human dignity, and justice. Read on to discover ways to do it with us in community– building love, building power, and building a better world.