Thursday, December 23, 2010

Shemot, Exodus and Christmas

Jews in Germany were doing ok in the Weimer republic and then the bottom fell out. Hitler
for details see

Our parasha:

In Egypt, similar story. What happened? Why did things change? "A new King arose who knew not Joseph"
We don't know who it was "The many attempts to identify the proud Pharaoh of the Exodus have so far failed to provide convincing proof as to his identity. Unlike the Bible, secular ancient annals tend to treat failure with silence, and this Pharaoh was a spectacular failure". for the full article see

Without knowing who it was, hard to know why. Here is what the Torah says:

And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation.

7 And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.

8 Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.

9 And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we:

10 Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land.

11 Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses.

12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.

13 And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour:

14 And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in morter, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.

Rabbinic: Rab and Samuel differed in their interpretation of Exodus 1:8. One said that the “new” Pharaoh who did not know Joseph really was new, reading the word literally. The other said that only the Pharaoh’s decrees were new, as nowhere does the text state that the former Pharaoh died and the new Pharaoh reigned in his stead. The Gemara interpreted the words “Who knew not Joseph” in Exodus 1:8 to mean that he issued decrees against the Israelites as if he did not know of Joseph. (Babylonian Talmud Sotah 11a.)

This parasha has the beginning story of the enslavement-the birth of Moses, the first part of the haggadah story.
Interesting we read about the birth of baby Moses the same week Christians celebrate the birth of the baby they think was God. Since most of our neighbors are Christians, it is important to understand our beliefs in light of what are basic Christian beliefs. We'll look at this Friday night and Saturday.

I find this interesting.


Was Jesus born on December 25, or in December at all? Although it’s not impossible, it seems unlikely. The Christian Bible does not specify a date or month. One problem with December is that it would be unusual for shepherds to be “abiding in the field” at this cold time of year when fields were unproductive. The normal practice was to keep the flocks in the fields from Spring to Autumn. Also, winter would likely be an especially difficult time for pregnant Mary to travel the long distance from Nazareth to Bethlehem (70 miles).


Why do many Christians celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December, if that is not when he was born?

The date was chosen by the Roman Catholic Church. Because Rome dominated most of the “Christian” world for centuries, the date became tradition throughout most of Christendom.

The original significance of December 25 is that it was a well-known festival day celebrating the annual return of the sun. December 21 is the winter solstice (shortest day of the year and thus a key date on the calendar), and December 25 is the first day that ancients could clearly note that the days were definitely getting longer and the sunlight was returning. Since no one knows the day of his birth, the Roman Catholic Church felt free to chose this date. The Church wished to replace the pagan festival with a Christian holy day (holiday). The psychology was that is easier to take away an unholy (but traditional) festival from the population, when you can replace it with a good one. Otherwise, the Church would have left a void where there was a long-standing tradition, and risked producing a discontented population and a rapid return to the old ways.

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