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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg @TheRaDR
, 19 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
Here's approx. what I said yesterday at #FBTChi Shabbat services:

We've seen this story before. 1/x Thread.
We've seen this story before, when Pharoah looked at the Israelite people and saw that they were "too numerous," that they posed a demographic problem for his power, and decided that the solution was to oppress them.

We've seen this story before.
And when even oppression didn't work and he realized that the real way to terrorize a population was to go after their children.
Yocheved hid the baby Moses from Pharoah's army just as Jewish parents hid their children from the Gestapo just as parents right now are hiding their children from ICE.

We've seen this story before.
We've seen this story before in this week's Torah portion, when the Moabite king Balak saw the Israelites running fleeing persecution, saw them in the midbar--the wilderness, the limnal place--between danger and safety and he said, "they will lick us clean."
When he used dehumanizing language--they are so numerous that they "hide the earth from view" in order to justify what he was going to do next.

We've seen this story before.
So Balak goes to the seer, the prophet Balaam and demand that he curse the people. Balak doesn't care what happens to them, he just wants them cursed, gone, no mater how they suffer.
But after a series of surprising events, Balaam doesn't curse the people Israel--he blesses them. And there's this moment in the middle of all this blessing when he turns to face the wilderness, this limbo, this howling void between danger and safety.
"As Balaam looked up and saw Israel encamped....the spirit of God came upon him.... he said.... 'How fair are your tents, O Jacob, Your dwellings, O Israel!'"

He looks up and he sees the Israelites.
He sees them camped in their tents. He probably sees families together, children and parents, maybe children playing, maybe groups of friends, maybe couples in love. He sees a people, vulnerable and frightened, yearning to breathe free. He sees them.
The seeing and the blessing are intertwined. When he opens his eyes & heart to behold the Israelites' beautiful, holy selves, created in the image of God, he is able to bless them. When we open our eyes to see the full humanity of others, we are able to bless them.
And when we bless--when we give over of ourselves to others, when we offer something holy and true to another--we also expand our capacity to see them. When we look to see, we can bless. When we bless, we can better see.
This fight is going to be long.

We've seen this story before.

And we know that the Bible--regardless of what Jeff Sessions says--stands on the side of liberation. We know that the Bible stands on the side of the oppressed.
We know that the Bible stands for safety and hope for all. And we know that the Bible demands that we take risks in the pursuit of justice.
This fight will demand a lot of different tactics.

The midwives--Shifrah & Puah--in Egypt engaged in strategic civil disobedience in order to protect oppressed human beings.

Pharoah's daughter leveraged her privilege & access in order to protect oppressed human beings.
God used God's power and might in order to get the Israelites out of Egypt, in order to protect oppressed human beings.

And Balaam looked.

Balaam turned to see. He opened his eyes and his heart, accessed empathy, caring, concern in order to protect oppressed human beings.
We need to do all of these things.
The hour is upon us.
We need to be brave in our resistance.
We need to use all of our privilege and access.
We need to use all of our power and might.
And we need to open our eyes and hearts.
As we fight to create a world that is equitable and just, we must also create a world of caring and connection, of empathy and love. We must never forget to look, and to see.
We've seen the story of oppression before, but we've also seen the story of liberation before.

We've seen this story before.

And we know that we can create a world based on justice, and caring, and empathy, and liberation, and love.
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