Student Rabbi Ross Levy’s Message January 2019

New Beginnings and New Stories


We recently entered into the Book of Exodus in our yearly Torah reading cycle. With the beginning of this book, we experience the beginning of a new chapter in the larger story of our people. Within a few verses, the cast of characters familiar to us from Genesis give way to a new story and a new hero. The origin story of our great teacher Moses begins with high drama. With the persecution of the Egyptians, his mother places him in a vessel and sent him with the tides of the Nile in search of freedom.

The vessel used in this narrative is often understood to be a basket of sorts. The Hebrew term used, “teivah”, is rare in the Biblical text—only appearing in one another place. This word is the same term used for the Ark in the story of Noah early in the book of Genesis. With this in mind, we see that the vessel bringing Moses down the Nile is not simply meant to bring him from one physical place to another, but rather signifies the rebirth and renewal of the narrative.

As we usher in the secular new year, we might think of the new beginnings we seek. Moving from one year to the next, there is much about the past we wish to carry with us. There may also be aspects of the past year we wish to leave behind—similar to the pain and oppression in the stories of Noah and forced servitude in Egypt. This past year has seen varying degrees of tragedy in our nation, but it has also seen the hopeful and powerful responses of many communities—including our own.

May this new year bring health and happiness—hope and harmony to our community and to all. May we seek out new beginnings while carrying with us positive aspects of this past year. May 2019 bring more life, love, and laughter to us all!

Ken Yehi Ratzon

May it be God’s will


Student Rabbi Ross Z. Levy