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Friday Night's Sermon: Leaving Egypt and Overcoming Challenges


Someone with whom I’m friends on Facebook brought up this and I think he has this portion right on.

The Children of Israel were at probably our lowest point in our history. We were not in our chosen land but in a foreign land. We were slaves and oppressed. We were downtrodden and there seemed like no hope.

Then a redeemer appeared in the person of Moses ben Amram. With his brother Aaron, he confronted Pharaoh and beseeched him to let our people go that they may serve their G-d. Pharaoh was stubborn and did not relent.

It seemed an improbably and impossible situation. Egypt was one of the, if not the, mightiest nation in the known world at the time. The Israelites were at the lowest rung of society with absolutely no influence or power.

However, HaShem sent 10 plagues, each one worse that the previous. At first, Pharaoh had his magicians and wizards replicate and duplicate each scenario. This caused Pharaoh to harden his heart. However, as the plaques kept coming, the magicians were less able to perform the tasks. After about the fifth plague, they seemed convinced that they were in the hands of something a lot mightier than they and beseeched Pharaoh to relent.

Pharaoh persisted. It wasn’t until the tenth and final plague that Pharaoh finally told Moses to take his people and leave. The improbable and impossible had been achieved. Israel was now free to worship Hashem and travel to the promised land, a land filled with milk and honey.

Or was it? Just as everyone was full of hope, happy and joyous that they were free and on their way, they run into—the Sea of Reeds. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they turned around and saw in the distance the Egyptians in their chariots, braced for war, quickly approaching.

As things looked bleak, Hashem again provided a solution and open up the Sea of Reeds and hardened the bed allowing the Israelites, all 2 ½ million of them, to cross in safety. When the Egyptians tried to cross, He closed up the sea swallowing all the soldiers. Once again, when things seemed bleak, Hashem came through.

Consider that we can look at our lives in the same way. How many of us have faced situations where things seemed to be at their worst, a solution either presented itself or it abated. And we had come through it. We had crossed the sea to safety.

Three times each day, every day, during our silent standing prayer, the Amidah or Shemonah Esrei, we recite מודים אנחנו לך in which we “gratefully thank You…for Your miracles that are with us every day , and for your wonder and favors in every season”.

It is Jewish custom that we don’t expect miracles. When they do come, however, we appreciate them. The wonders for which we are thankful are those things which are wondrous, but of which we’ve grown accustomed and may take for granted, like our health, our ability to walk, breathe, etc.

This prayer helps us to remember that Hashem comes through for us when the time is right. Consider that the reason we don’t expect miracles is so we don’t rely on them. If we did, we would never rise to any occasion to overcome challenges.


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