Shabbat Shalom From Rabbi Klayman
January 3, 2018 16 Tevet 5778
Portion of Shmot and the Making of a Resume
Most of us in the professional/work arena have at one time or another written and distributed a resume. A resume is one of those documents which can reflect both positive and negative realities. On the positive side: Some of us write a resume as we seek our first job. Certainly, there is cause for excitement as we anticipate entering the professional world and making a name for ourselves. Likewise, experienced professionals, who are looking forward to a new venture or opportunity, are generally enthusiastic about sharing their vast experience with a different ‘audience.’
On the other hand, sometimes we change jobs reluctantly or unexpectedly. The resume then, can be a tedious, yet necessary step in the process. For the reluctant job changer however, a resume provides an additional benefit. Many of us have stood before committees or organization representatives; trying to sell ourselves all over again. Despite the fact that our impressive credentials have already earned for us a notable reputation; the past alone is not convincing. The people before whom we stand may dismiss our previous life; but they will be hard pressed to ignore the significant qualifications expressed in that resume. Our accomplishments cannot be cavalierly dismissed…
The subject of resume came to mind as I was thinking about the opening of Shmot; the first portion in the Book of Exodus:
A new king arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph
The Book of Exodus begins with the family of Jacob firmly settled in Goshen, Egypt. The Israelites have enjoyed personal and professional success. They won the admiration of the Pharaoh and comfortably transitioned from Canaan to Egypt. I imagine that the Egyptian people themselves were enriched by the contributions of Joseph’s family. Inevitably, over time Jacob, Joseph and their generation died off. Likewise, the good Pharaoh and his leading officials faded into the sunset. In their place, a new king arose; a king not aware of the Israelite resume. That resume, which highlighted the contributions of Joseph and company, no longer existed. There was no written record to detail the impressive credentials of an Israelite clan; now depicted as both a nuisance and as sub-human. This new ruler, unaware of the Israelite resume, subjected the Israelites to unparalleled oppression and suffering. Had the Israelite resume been available; Pharaoh might have appreciated the remarkable Israelite contributions to Egyptian society. Instead, he dismissed the past; and instituted a treacherous present. There was no resume to protect and defend soon- to- be Hebrew slaves.
Eventually, it was the God of Israel Who-through the new leader Moses-never allowed the Israelite resume to be destroyed. It took a long time, but the dignity of Jacob’s people was restored.
Today, Judaism lays under internal siege. New generations of Jews have forgotten the long and remarkable resume of the Jewish people. Rather than re-designing Judaism for a contemporary audience; they sever all ties with their past. My hope is that by re-acquainting itself with that resume; a skeptical and dismissive generation will embrace Jewish identity with pride and commitment.
Shabbat Shalom and Stay Warm!