Tuesday, April 10, 2012
End of Pesach- Witnessing History
Vayikach Moshe et atzmot Yosef imo ki hashbei’a hishbi’a et b’nei Yisrael leimor pakod yifkod Ehlohim etchem v’ha’alitem et atzmotai mizeh etchem.
And Moshe took the bones of Joseph with him for he had surely sworn the children of Israel saying, “God will surely remember you and you shall carry my bones from here with you.”
Dor l’dor. Judaism is a religion of connection from generation to generation. Even after 400 years in Egypt, even after Joseph had been forgotten by the Egyptians, we remembered. Serach bat Asher was one of the girls among those who entered Egypt with Jacob and his family. Serach bat Asher was also among the women who left Egypt. Midrash tells us this was the same woman. It was Serach who came to Moshe while the Israelites were preparing for their departure to tell him where to find the bones of Joseph and the incantation to raise them. Later Serach visits the great yeshiva in Babylon. She listens outside the window to the lessons, but upon hearing the teaching she enters the yeshiva and describes to the Rabbis and students what she saw leaving Egypt. We are taught that even today, Serach bat Asher roams the earth to teach us what we have forgotten.
In Egypt, when a new ruler arose, it was the custom to erase the previous history and rewrite it as if the new ruler had always been in power. Judaism does not erase its history. Judaism does not rewrite its truth. We are taught to learn, to study, and to seek the truth. There must be a continuity from generation to generation, and our elders stand for us as witnesses to what came before. Like generations of women from Sarah, Rivka, and Rachel and Leah to the righteous women in Egypt, Serach stood to witness and to teach.