Right away, in this first Torah portion in Exodus, we learn about the midwives who saved Jewish children from Pharaoh's monstrous plan. In fact, this story shows up already in the very first chapter! Pharaoh
tells these two women, Shifrah and Puah, to kill all male babies born to the Israelite women (v. 16), but they refuse to do so out of fear of God (v. 17). They defiantly, and remarkably, lie to Pharaoh's face (v. 19), and are ultimately rewarded by God (v. 21). But that's not the only example. Pharaoh's own daughter scoops Moses out of the Nile and raises him as her son. After fleeing from Pharaoh, Moses finds shelter with a Midianite priest, Yitro, and soon marries his daughter. If you fast-forward a bit, when the Israelites eventually DO leave Egypt (sorry if I spoiled the surprise ending for you...), we are told that they leave with an "Erev Rav," a "mixed multitude" of other slaves and servants who seized the opportunity when mighty Egypt was vulnerable and snuck out too! For a story that's meant to be all about the Jews, there sure are a lot of non-Jewish players involved...
And that, I suppose, is my whole point. Our story is never just about us. Our successes and failures never occur in a vacuum, with no input from anyone else. The story of the Israelite
Rev. J. Pius Barbour. It is hard for me to describe to you the feeling of awe, humility, and holiness that I felt standing at the same lectern as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was unbelievable. There is actually an audio recording of the service available online, with some photos (though no video), which you can find here:
The speech I delivered was very similar to one I had given a year earlier at Crozer-Chester Hospital, and which you can read on the blog here. In it, I specifically mentioned this concept of the Erev Rav, the mixed multitude that left Egypt together, and which took responsibility for one another's fate. And several people who attended either last year or this year came up to me afterwards and said they had never heard about the
Photos in this blog post: