My Signs that I Have Done Among Them: A D’Var Torah on Parshat Bo
10 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2016
Date Written: January 16, 2016
In the Biblical book of Exodus, Pharaoh at first refuses to let the Israelites go because, despite the onslaught of the first five plagues, he hardens his own heart against any concession. But by the second five plagues, even when Pharaoh seems ready to relent, God steps in and hardens his heart for him. In Exodus 10:1-2, God gives Moses two reasons for hardening Pharaoh's heart: First, "in order that I may place these signs of Mine in his midst." And second, "that you should tell in the ears of your son, and your son's son, what I have wrought upon Egypt, and My signs that I have done among them; that you may know that I am Hashem."
This talk plays on those two distinct reasons as the launching point for a set of observations that all center on the common theme of divine "signs." Among the arguments in the talk is that (1) although the Passover seder is a telling and re-enacting of the story of the Exodus, it can also be said that the Exodus from Egypt – ten plagues and all – occurred for the sake of the Seder, and in that sense it is the Seder as much as the event that is the center of spiritual and religious action. (2) In interfaith encounters, the important question is not so much whether different religious traditions "worship the same God," but whether each of us can, with humility, charity, and deep wonder, simply look for God's signs in other religions, as we look for God's signs in nature and history and our own scriptures.
Keywords: divine signs, Bible, Book of Exodus, Book of Genesis, hardening of heart, plagues, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Bali, Balinese Hinduism, Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa, Jerusalem Temple, creation, Maimonides, "Orthodox Rabbinic Statement on Christianity", Wheaton College, Miroslav Volf, monotheism, idolatry
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