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Rabbi Feingold's D'var Torah

Bo - 01/26/23

The Israelites despoiling the Egyptians. Image from f. 13 of the ‘Golden Haggadah.” 1325–1349

In this week’s parasha, the Israelites finally leave Egypt, after 10 plagues and many false starts.  Before their departure, God give this direction: “Speak, please, in the ears of the people, that they ask, each man of his neighbor, and each woman of her neighbor, silver items and gold items. And Adonai gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians;….” (Ex 11: 2-3) Rabbi Aryeh Bernstein adds the following commentary: “This commandment was not the momentary seizing of an opportunity, but a core component of the exodus. When God first promised liberation to the Israelite slaves, speaking to Moses at the burning bush, that promise already explicitly included abundant reparations.” (Ex 3:21-22) (The Torah Case for Reparations Mar 29, 2018) As Jews, we applaud reparations to survivors and their descendants after the Holocaust.  Do we feel equally committed to reparations to Blacks in America for the continuing effects of slavery centuries later?  Some American cities have committed to such reparations, including Evanston, IL:  If we believe our enslaved ancestors were due reparations, can we embrace a model like Evanston’s for our own day?

Tue, January 31 2023 9 Sh'vat 5783