God can be found in every place, in every relationship, and in every person
In this D'var Torah, or words of wisdom interpreting verses from the Hebrew Bible, Associate Chaplain Rabbi Meir Goldstein muses on Exodus 10:1-13:16.
In this D'var Torah, or words of wisdom interpreting verses from the Hebrew Bible, Elon's Associate Chaplain Rabbi Meir Goldstein muses on how God can be found in every place, in every relationship, and in every person. A D'var Torah is an important Jewish ritual seen most frequently as a lesson about the weekly portion of the Torah (the Five Books of Moses), which is also called the parashah. This week's portion is Exodus 10:1-13:16.
This week’s Torah portion, parshat Bo, retells the climax of the Pharaoh/Moses story, and has a deep piece of wisdom for us. The parasha speaks about the final three plagues, Pharaoh’s relenting to Moses’ plea for freedom, and the first communal mitzvah.
The piece of wisdom I want to focus on is found in the very first word of our reading. The line retells a conversation between God and Moses where the Holy One instructs Moses to go to Pharaoh in order to plea for freedom for the Israelites. The big challenge is that the Torah doesn’t actually say “go to Pharaoh”, as it is often translated. The verse reads “come to Pharaoh,” as though God were saying “come here to Pharaoh.”
Noting this potentially heretical teaching, Rabbi Menachem Mendel from Kotsk teaches the following: the Torah teaches “come” to Pharaoh instead of “go” in order to teach Moses that it is impossible for him to distance himself from God. The Holy One can be found in every place. It is as though God were saying to Moses, “Come with Me, I am with you everywhere you go.”
On our campuses, it can be all to easy to think of some places as holy or, perhaps, even some people as holy. Certainly some relationships are easier than others. The Kotsker comes to remind us that God can be found in every place, in every relationship, and in every person.
Alternatively, a similar piece of wisdom can be found in Leonard Cohen’s Torah:
There’s a blaze of light in every word
it doesn’t really matter which one you heard
the holy one or this broken halleluYah.
Rabbi Meir Goldstein