One Shabbat, Rabbi Bloom told his congregation, "Next week, my sermon will be all about the sin of lying and to help you understand it better, I would like you all to read Leviticus chapter 28 before next week."
The following week, at the start of his sermon, Rabbi Bloom asked his congregation, "How many of you have read Leviticus 28?" Every hand went up.
Rabbi Bloom smiled and said, "Leviticus has only 27 chapters. I will now proceed with my sermon on the sin of lying.”
The Exodus from Egypt, which we commemorate with the Passover holiday starting next Friday night, starts off with an untruth. The Jews intended to leave Egypt forever and return to their homeland. Yet, that is not what they told Pharaoh. Never once did Moshe mention that they wanted to be free from their slavery and liberated from Egyptian bondage. According to what Moshe told Pharaoh, all the Jewish people wanted was a three day break so that they could serve their G-d in the desert.
Granted, Moses did not say an explicit lie. He never said that the people would return to Egypt after the three day festival. But why did he not demand that it is the right of the Jewish people to be free for good? Why wasn’t he open with Pharaoh?
According to the simple explanation, the Jews feared that Pharaoh would not allow them to go, even after all of the ten plagues. On a deeper level, Moses wanted to teach us a lesson. There were some Jews who wanted to be fully prepared and didn’t yet feel totally cleansed and purified. Moshe wanted to tell the Jews, “Listen! Even though you’re not fully ready, even if you think there’s more you could perfect, it’s time to move. It’s time to leave. Later on, you can finish cleaning yourself up. Right now, the priority is to act.”
And in our daily lives, we need to heed that call, as well. Sometimes, we want to do something good but wait - first I need to stop being bad, first I need to stop being so arrogant and nasty. The Torah teaches us no - first do what you need to do. You won’t be able to get rid of all your bad, at once. But that shouldn’t stop you from doing what’s right.
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Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom!