Prepared by Rabbi Stephen Texon
Was it a new king who arose in Egypt who "knew not" Joseph or was it the same king who knew Joseph very well, promoted him to greatness and the pinnacle of Royal power, who then following Joseph's death turned his back on the Jewish people and pretended not to know (remember, recognize) Joseph and his tremendous contribution to the Egyptian empire? Does lack of recognition / appreciation of the Jewish contribution sound familiar?
Either way the downturn of events in the opening portion of this week's Torah narrative was catastrophic for all the Jewish population as they were thrown into the suffering and indignity of slavery. They were just numbers now, faceless numbers without character or individuality.
The sands of history had shifted from relative prosperity during the reign of the Viceroy of Egypt, Joseph, second only to the Pharaoh, to that of poverty and degradation. This however was all a huge pretext for the future salvation which was to come to the Jewish Nation with the birth of the "deliverer" Moses in this week's portion and his being chosen by the Almighty to lead the Hebrew slaves from bondage to freedom.
From the burning bush to the ten plagues to the crossing of the Red Sea to the heights of Mt. Sinai, we will follow the awesome story of our Exodus from Egypt into the wilderness, protected and nourished by Almighy G-d in the 40 year journey to the promised land "flowing with milk and honey", the land of Israel.
5,000 years of Jewish History have brought us to where we are today; let us cherish what we have as our ancestral homeland under G-d's eternal protection. May G-d give strength to His people, and bless his people with peace!
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