This week's Parsha, BaYigash, begins with the extraordinary soliloquy by Judah, pleading with the Minister of State (Joseph) not to enslave Benjamin, his brother. You may recall that Joseph detained Benjamin when a royal goblet was found under his saddle. Joseph has it placed there in order to do some radical therapy on his brothers, to cause them to relive the immoral act of selling their brother into slavery and deceiving their father over what happened to Joseph.
Their suppressed guilt comes to the surface. Judah, the moral conscience of the family, pours out his heart, courageously faces the Egyptian leader, and begins the process of healing. He begs the exalted minister, who represents injustice, offering to give over himself rather than Benjamin. The High Minister, his disguised brother, then reveals himself. There is much weeping in the apparent openness that takes place. It is a moment of deep redemption for Joseph and his brothers.
The path to reconciliation was painful. Joseph took the risk of engaging his brothers in a supreme test of his own inner depth and wisdom. Judah, the ancestor of the Messianic line, stepped up to the plate, risking his own life in order to save Benjamin, his father's "only" child from Rachel, legacy of his old age.
Today, I attended a most moving Interfaith event where fifty faith leaders and two hundred attendees, mostly members of Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church, welcomed Rosa, a Guatemalan mother of three kids born in the country whom, after thirteen years in the country, was ordered to leave by immigration authorities. Cedar Lane, today, gave her sanctuary. They have provided her with an apartment to live in while she and her attorney appeal the deportation. Her status changed under Trump. She has one child with Down syndrome. Cedar Lane stepped up to the plate, Big time. The County Exec, Marc Elrich and the County Council, though not in attendance, sent a message of support to Cedar Lane and to her.
I was asked to be one of the speakers. I felt honored to be a witness to this act and Mitzvah gedolah of spiritual resistance. I spoke about how the present New Sanctuary Movement drew its inspiration from the ancient Israelite injunction to establish Cities of Refuge for asylum seekers and I mentioned how we, as a people, have been programmed to "welcome the stranger" by thirty-six times in the Torah, the Mitzvah is conveyed and by our own history.
As in the story of Joseph, many in that room wept when Rosa spoke. Many wept when other faith leaders spoke. Jews, Christian, Muslims, Buddhist and others were weeping in this moment of faith, love and justice. The room was the Coat of Many Colors.
Thank you Cedar Lane. Let us be strong and may we strengthen each other, Khazak, Khazak, v'Nitkhazek, Reb David