Honorable Mensch-ion


When were the Jewish people called am, a nation for the first time? This did not happen by our ancestors, the Israelites, or the Jewish people. Rather, it was Pharaoh who called us a nation for the first time when he recognized that the people before him were too strong for him to bear.

Rabbi Pinchas Peli notes that it is often one’s arch-enemy who becomes aware of a people and not one’s own self-awareness of their own strength.

Peli explains that when Pharaoh witnessed the strength of the midwives, Shifra and Puah, disobeying his orders to kill the Jewish children, he comprehended that this was a people who would resist and have the strength to unify as a nation.

For the last 90 days, the emotional weight of events in Israel have bogged us down as individuals. Yet, we know by what we have witnessed on a daily basis that we could not do this alone. We are not only B’nei Yisrael, children of Israel, but we are an am, a nation.

Pharaoh was the first one to acknowledge this fact. While we may still be waiting for some of the world to do the same, it is our turn to celebrate the gift of nationhood, the bonds between Jews around the world. As we begin the book of Shemot, retelling our Exodus story, know that through all the challenge, being an am, a nation led us to redemption, and to the Promised Land.

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