Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Shemos

Selective Memory

The Torah in this week’s parsha informs us that there "arose a new king – a Pharaoh that knew not of Yosef." The Talmud advances two opinions as to who this new king was. One opinion is that he was truly a new king, who out of ignorance and prejudice knew not of Yosef and how he saved Egypt in its darkest days of famine and depression. The other opinion advanced there in the Talmud is that it was the same old Pharaoh that had been blessed by Yaakov and saved by Yosef but that now he chose not to remember Yosef and his past grand achievements. Rashi here in this parsha quotes both opinions of the Talmud. This second opinion implies somehow that this Pharaoh must have lived a very long life since the enslavement of the Jews by the Egyptians did not begin until well over a century after the death of Yosef and his brothers. It is therefore reasonable to see in these seemingly contradictory opinions of the Talmud a lesson and perspective on Jewish history and current events. The two opinions are in reality but two sides of the same coin – the coin of ingratitude, hatred of the "other" and selective historical memory. The new Pharaoh and the old Pharaoh are really the same type of historical tyrant and hater. And they are both to be considered very dangerous to Jewish survival and to civilization generally. And in every generation they arise once again to threaten us and all of humanity.

There are those who are truly ignorant of the contributions of the Jewish people to the general welfare of humanity and civilization. Inundated with false indoctrinations and malicious conspiracy theories, overwhelmed by religious or secular fanaticism, seeking instant utopia whose pursuit justifies the most murderous means imaginable, this new king knows not Yosef and also sees the Jews as a mortal threat. The new king in the past century was mainly represented by the Communist movement, by the Soviet Union. The poison of anti-Semitism which the Soviet Union disseminated throughout the world has survived the fall of that evil empire itself. It haunts us to this very day. But there was also the old king who knew not Yosef. Jewish contributions to the development of Wilhelminian Germany and to the Weimar republic were purposely forgotten by the German people in World War II. The twelve thousand Jews who died in World War I fighting for German victory were willfully expunged from the German mindset. The old king was ungrateful and immoral. The contributions of the Jews to Moslem society have been great and long-lasting. Yet, the old kings and the new kings that govern much of that society today choose to forget and not know and now demand the extinction of the Jewish state and people. The narrative of Shemot repeats itself today in Europe and Africa and here in the Middle East. The world needs a good lesson of teaching in the parsha of Shemot. So too do the Jewish people. It will make us wiser and more realistic about our present and future course as a people and as a country.

Shabat Shalom
Rabbi Berel Wein


Text Copyright © 2006 by Rabbi Berel Wein and Torah.org


 
Sell Chometz Online







ARTICLES ON PESACH AND THE OMER:

View Complete List

Lag B'Omer & The Big Picture
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5770

Pesach Weather
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5765

The Fifth Son
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5772

ArtScroll

Matzah and Maror - Worthy Mechutanim
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5759

Pesach Selections
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758

Elevated by Divine Command
Rabbi Naphtali Hoff - 5770

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

The Great Shabbos
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5768

Liberate Yourself!
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5762

A New Outlook
Rabbi Shlomo Jarcaig - 5763

Looking for a Chavrusah?

In Lamb
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5772

Symbolism Over Substance
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5757

Introduction to Maggid
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5755

> Last Days of Pesach
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5756

All About Dipping
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5755

And You Shall Tell Your Son
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5774

Why is this Night Different?
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5755



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information