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March 2018 - Message from the Rabbi

rabbi gary mazoShalom and an early Chag Sameach.

Passover begins at the end of this Month with our TABI Passover Seder on Friday Night, March 30th at 5:30 PM. The Passover story begins with Moses during his earliest days when the daughter of Pharaoh saved him from certain death.

The decree to kill the male Hebrew children was one that was made by her father–it was beyond her control. According to the story in Torah - When Pharaoh’s daughter saw the basket among the reeds, she sent her maid ("Ammatah") to fetch it (Exodus 2:5) Another interpretation of this verse renders the Hebrew word Ammatah as "her arm," rather than "her maid." Many believe that this is to teach us that her arm was extended to enable her to reach the basket. Yet, she "extended her arm" in this situation to essentially defy her father and make a difference when she had the opportunity.

There is a powerful lesson here for each and every one of us. Often, we are confronted with a situation that seems to be beyond our ability to solve. Someone or something is crying out for our help, but by all natural means the matter is simply beyond our reach. In those situations, we resign ourselves to inactivity, reasoning that the little we can do won't change matters anyway. Pharaoh's daughter, however, heard a child's cry and extended her arm. An unbridgeable distance lay between her and the basket containing the weeping infant, making her action seem utterly pointless. Yet, her singular act saved a people and changed the course of history forever.

This is something truly fascinating - that an Egyptian woman put aside the bigotry of her people to make such a personal act of defiance against her king and her father. We can see that one small action of kindness set in motion the end of evil and the beginning of redemption.

Many times in our life we are confronted by attempts to change something on a large scale but resolve to ourselves that the task is too great to make such a profound change. We look at our struggling environment or the problem of racism and say, "its too deep I can’t make a difference so why bother?" We see here how one act of courage and defiance can begin the process of redemption from injustice and change the world for the better.

God saw how Pharaoh's daughter made the effort to change what needed to be changed and than made the next step to set in motion the redemption of the Jewish people. All this would never have happened without the effort of Pharaoh's daughter by putting out her arm. God extended her reach, enabling her to save a life and raise the great human being that gave the Jews redemption. One good person did something extraordinary even if small.

It is these small acts of the daily victory that change the world for the better. As Jews, we know too well the pain of discrimination, hatred and bigotry. As Jews, we know the hurt caused by judgment, misinformation and religious persecution. We are witnessing in our country a myriad of issues that seem to defy our past as "strangers in a strange land."

Whether it is witnessing the deportation of individuals who have committed no crime except being born in a "different" land or the "Dreamers" who had been promised a better life to now have that promise pulled out from under them.

We have the opportunity to act like the daughter of Pharaoh –to "Extend our arm" and make a difference. If you feel that anti-immigrant sentiment in our country is unjust – let your representatives and senators know about it. If you see discrimination – stand up to it and lend your voice of tolerance, respect and love. Together –we can make a difference and we can live the lessons of Pesach and stand together and work for a world where one is not judged by the color of their skin, their country of origin or their faith.

I wish you a happy and a sweet Pesach!

B'shalom,

Gary A. Mazo, Rabbi