Monday, February 4, 2013

For You Were Strangers In The Land Of Egypt - Parashat Mishpatim

This week we read Parashat Mishpatim. There is a verse in Mishpatim that has such power, and such resonance, not only in the experience of the Israelites, but in so many today.
That verse is "You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." (Ex. 23:20)
It is out of our experiences that that we are commanded to remember. We are commanded to work against the oppression that we experienced when we were slaves.  Our own memory of slavery obligates us to do this.
Millions of new immigrants work in this country every single day. We need to let them step out of the shadows, and make their dream a reality. A roadmap is emerging for citizenship for the millions of hopeful Americans that are now living and working in the U.S. Everyone deserves a better life.
President Obama said, "A lot of folks forget that a lot of 'us' used to be 'them," "Unless you're one of the first Americans, a Native American, you came from some place else. Somebody brought you."
 There can be no more important message than this:
“You shall not oppress the stranger, for you know the soul of the stranger, having been strangers in the land of Egypt.” For years, the Torah taught this, but it had little to teach, because we were the stranger. Now that we are not strangers, this teaching becomes far more important, and one we must be committed to live by.

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