This week, my friend Henri Lite, who just became a bar mitzvah, is my guest author. I was lucky enough to attend shabbat services on Saturday and got to learn from Henri’s words. Here is Henri’s drash:
In my Torah portion Masei , Numbers 33:1-12 the Jews who had been slaves for hundred’s of years, are leaving Egypt. When a group of people have lived for generations in slavery, that way of being has become their normal life. When freedom was presented to the Jewish slaves, for some it was seen as a risk. What if the Pharaoh was trying to trick the Jews and this was a trap. Other fears might have been, where would they find a new home to live, and how would they find food and shelter. Some may also have been questioning Moses’ ability to be a leader. For us looking back and from the outside, freedom may be not seen as a risk. For a moment put yourself in a position where you are faced with venturing out into the open desert with no destination or resources available. What a choice; stay as a slave to the Pharaoh or go free into the desert. I think we can now see why this new freedom could have been met with some doubt.
The question that arises for me is what is worth taking a risk for. Let’s ponder the word risk for a moment. The dictionary definition says possible hazard, possibility for loss. These days most people look at risk verses reward. They only want to take a risk if the reward is big enough. I believe in risk for doing the right thing. What parent wouldn’t risk their life for their child. I would take risks to protect or assist somebody who needs help. The Israelites took a great risk when they were led out of slavery toward freedom. We can experience real freedom when we take risks and when we believe we can accomplish them. There are times when some people see things as a risk, but to the person who has prepared and is committed to an action, this is no risk at all.
If you are prepared and properly trained and have a plan, there is no risk involved. That doesn’t guarantee success. Risk could be summed up as being reckless or ill prepared. My grandparents had a similar struggle to the Jewish slaves in Egypt. They took a leap of faith in leaving their home in Europe to come to America for a better life. What are you willing to take a risk for?
Let us rejoice in our ancestor’s courage and faith to leave Egypt despite the doubt and risks that they would face beginning a new life in a new land.