December 23, 2021 / 19 Tevet, 5782 • Parshat Shemot
Issue 698
Dedicated in loving memory of Mrs. Miriam Friedman

These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt

Exodus 1:1

The Jews’ physical exile was their forced slavery; their spiritual exile was

their psychological enslavement to their hosts’ culture. Although Jews assimilated because of their exile, others struggled to retain their Jewish identity, refusing to give up even such incidental aspects of their heritage as their Jewish names and language because of their faith in their destiny.

It was only after revealing their inner identity in response to the challenge

of exile that the Jewish people could proceed to the next phase—receiving

the Torah. The purpose of the Torah is to teach us how to bring Divine consciousness into the most mundane aspects of life, even those that

initially oppose G-dliness. In exile, the Jewish people learned how to

overcome even these forces.

The same applies to our present exile: holding on tenaciously to our

traditions—even those that appear to be unimportant—will hasten our redemption. The challenges that we overcome, both as individuals and

as a people, purify and prepare us for the exalted Divine revelations that

will accompany the imminent, final Redemption.

—from Daily Wisdom #1