1/ OK a few more #Exodus thoughts (because I'm going through a mountain of parsha stuff amidst all my other writing) connected to the #DvarTorah here about the nameless collective-compassionate action of the multitude being the engine of the salvation.
2/ It struck me to link to another conundrum (kinda like the large plague frog in the room): how Pharaoh has his free will removed

So, the nameless action could be a purposeful contrast to the singular powerful individual who normally is history's focus.
3/ IMO God manipulates Pharaoh in order to prevent one person making too much of a difference!

This ties into another larger point I often make about the culpability of the Egyptians & how actually they, not Pharaoh, are the focus of the plagues.
4/ My point contrasts how the Egyptians - who were responsible for being enslavers, for dehumanizing & stealing the labor of Israelites up to the point of joining in the Pharaoh command of infanticide (see 2:22)
5/ These individuals needed to make their choices without coercion from the autocrat, hence Pharaoh lost 'free will' in his capacity as someone who can move the engines of political power.

He lost free will in order to preserve the free will & action of his subjects
6/ The same subjects who enjoyed free/stolen labor. The same who joined in killing children b/c it served their xenophobic goals (see 1:10, the numerous Israelites will replace them?) These people needed to learn their own lesson or else face punishment
7/ This is the crucial point of Ex. 9:20-21:

Those among Pharaoh’s courtiers who feared the LORD’s word brought their slaves & livestock indoors to safety; but those who paid no regard to the word of the LORD left their slaves and livestock in the open

8/ This is also why I praise the Mixed Multitude, the Eruv Rav, b/c in my mind they were the point of the plagues. I see them as righteous gentiles who became Jews by Choice, and while good in itself, by contrast they damn those who refused God's warnings
9/ I've written elsewhere that the Righteous Gentiles of the Shoah are an overlooked part of the 'lessons' we're to learn: that it was possible to resist.

[Although, see this thread for a very sharp critique of the universalizing of the Shoah]
10/ BTW, the Eruv-Rav needed to convert for technical reasons (it's how anyone could survive plague #10, also how some Israelites may not have survived, if they didn't bring a korban-Pesach, no distinguishing doorpost).

Otherwise, righteous gentiles are a world l'chatchila.
11/ My kids know how to press one of my shiny buttons, which are the bigoted divrei Torah about the Eruv-Rav being responsible for every sin in the desert.

I won't get into it now but that idea is so crazy wrong I can't stand it.
12/ In sum: the free-will problem of Pharaoh is linked to the need for nameless, collective action of the nations: Israelites to keep faith in God's covenant with Avraham, which ipso facto means being compassionate, in contrast to the super-Sedom, Egypt sefaria.org/Genesis.13.10?…
13/ Avraham's people needed to practice nameless compassion while the Egyptians - who acted as unhospitable, cruel, and greedy as Sedom - needed to either repent & follow God, or be punished with plagues

This required removing from history the single powerful man like Pharaoh
14/ This ties together the earlier dvar Torah (see 1st post) of nameless collective action with the question of Pharaoh's lost free will along with the moral question of how the plagues could've been an unjust collective punishment
15/ The plagues are justified when we see that Pharaoh's commands could have been resisted (like we see with Bat-Paro and Shifra & Puah, who I insist were Egyptian) and this highlights the culpability of the society that maintained slavery and murder.
16/ OK, maybe I can turn my attention to my other work now. Whew. #DvarTorah #Parsha #Vaera #Exodus

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More from @JoshuaCypess

13 Jan
1/ Many people remark that we wouldn't have survived 4 more years of Trump (ym'sh) - and I agree - but this was a 40 year project of destroying the democratic form of US gov., starting with Reagan, and accelerated from Gingrich.

DJT was to almost the final hammer blow.
2/ Both Roosevelts changed the function of the government from preserving the entrenched power to an instrument to help people survive & thrive

TR was a Progressive, tore down the monopolies, established public health etc. When he left the party, the GOP became what it is today
3/ Wilson took up TR's platform (TR helped by splitting the 1912 vote) and when the GOP won in 1920, they actively tried to undermine the entire new project of what America would do for its citizens.

Read 18 tweets
12 Jan
1/ Another observation the #Literalist fallacy I see about how much Trump (ym'sh) has planned all of the chaos & violence. My overarching point will be that society is structured & that means there's an inherent pattern to effects no matter the 'intelligence' behind the causes
2/ The virus should teach us this. #Literalists claim it was made in a lab because they see a killing-machine that carves its way through society and they must apply individual force & cause to the effectiveness of the biological organism
3/ #Literalists see only the tree, not the forest, so they think every effect stands alone, and thus has individual cause. This is the root fallacy of 'intelligent design'

its what led my ancestors to presume every disease is caused by a demon. Nature becomes personified.
Read 27 tweets
10 Jan
26.01/ Week twenty-six, Jan. 9-15, 2021, begins here.

Last week's thread is here:
26.02/ Maggie H reports: "I asked for comment from the WH on the chants to hang Mike Pence. 'We strongly condemn all calls to violence, including those against any member of this administration,' said Judd Deere, a WH spokesman" & I love this response:
26.03/ Dr. Perry is right on the money here:
Read 106 tweets
3 Jan
1/ I'm just reflecting about how many leaders from the Modern Orthodox community passed away in 2020. The list is an overwhelming pantheon of pivotal, unique, and creative rabbis. I'm stunned by the enormity of the loss.
2/ Right at the end of the year, the 9th of Tevet, we lost Rav Henkin z'l, probably the most prominent & compassionate Dati-Leumi posek we had! It's rare to have a highly superior halakhist with unimpeachable standards who is also wise & thoughtful.

3/ Another Dec. loss: Rav Schwartz z'l of Chicago, another towering posek who took brave & indominable positions that understood modern society while having complete, airtight respect for tradition.

In my work in medical halakha, he was a crucial ally.

Read 12 tweets
3 Jan
25.01/ Thread for week twenty-five, Jan. 2 to Jan. 8, 2021, begins here.

Week 24 thread was here:
25.02/ We've been blaming 2020 for our troubles, but maybe it's b/c it was the Year of the Rat? Acc. to chinesenewyear.net/zodiac/rat/ "In Chinese culture, rats were seen as a sign of wealth and surplus" and if that doesn't describe 2020, what does? (P.S. I was born in a ratty year)
25.03/ This is about the can-opener guy and, yes, he's abusive but strangely proud of it showing us that the AITA topics are possibly not as made up as we assumed.

I pray that when DJT is deposed & disposed these people will feel stigma again.
Read 85 tweets
27 Dec 20
24.01/ Week twenty-four, Dec. 26, 2020 to Jan 1, 2021 starts here. Last week's thread below

24.02/ Just heard a radio ad where the phrase "Santa is coming with our holiday goods" and, look, can we work harder at keeping the fiction that Holidays is Happy Holidays isn't a one-to-one word for "Xmas"? OK my dudes?
Read 24 tweets

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