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D’var Torah: Parashat Bo

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In this week’s D’var Torah, the Chief Rabbi explains that as Holocaust Memorial Day approaches, Parashat Bo offers a powerful lesson from history. 

As we approach Holocaust Memorial Day, we contemplate on the miraculous survival of the Jewish people, against the odds.

In this week’s Haftarah, while reflecting both on the suffering of the Israelite nation in Egypt and on subsequent occasions where people have tormented us, the Prophet Jeremiah provides reassurance to the people of Israel via the words of Hashem: “V’ata al tira avdi Yaakov v’al techat Yisrael”“Now do not fear my servant Jacob.” “Do not be distressed, oh Israel.” – “V’shav Yaakov… v’shakat v’sha’anan v’eyn macharid” “Jacob shall be quiet and at ease, and none shall make him afraid.”

Significantly, the Prophet goes on to say that God declares, “I will destroy those nations who will seek to destroy you, Jewish people, but I will never destroy the Jewish people.” Here we have echoes of the promise of Hashem to Abraham. “Those who bless you will be blessed, and those who curse you will be cursed.”

And if you look to history, you will see that, indeed, those nations who have blessed the Jewish people, who have been well disposed towards the Jewish people. Those nations who have welcomed us in our midst with open arms have thrived and been blessed in turn but those who have sought to destroy us have themselves been destroyed.

In a general sense, countries that are well disposed towards their minorities and all of their citizens and who are reaching out with welfare programmes to help and assist them, who are also well disposed to the wellbeing of all those suffering at a global level; such countries will thrive and will have a great future. But those which are determined to bring suffering into the lives of others, they will be doomed.

It is a plain lesson from history, and it is what our prophets have always told us. It is so simple and obvious; if only our world would learn that lesson today.

Shabbat Shalom.