January 2014, From the Rabbi

By Rabbi Erica Burech

As we read the book of Shemot during this month, I feel it is important to consider our people’s (Covenant) Brit with God.

Brit means that God is the Israelites’ God and the Israelites are God’s people. Brit involves making a serious commitment, where one does not commit for purposes of self-interest.

Brit enables us to honor God.

Both the Brit and the actual exodus from (Egypt) Mitzrayim (where God redeemed the Israelites from slavery) are tightly connected. In the book of Shemot, God delivers the Israelites from slavery into a Brit relationship. Moshe accepts the Brit relationship with God. God repeats to Moshe the promise of a (blessing) bracha that was made to Avraham and Sarah and their descendants. Here, Israel’s commitment to accept the Brit will bring them blessing and responsibility. Israel states in terms of accepting God’s Brit: “All the words which God has spoken we will do” (Shemot 24:3). Regardless of how sincere and moved the Israelites were when they committed themselves to the Brit, each generation has to reaffirm their obedience and devotion to God.

Finally, the Brit seen in (Deuteronomy) D’varim urges Israel to love, obey and teach the sovereignty of God. The Brit calls for obedience and discusses rewards and punishments that will be appropriately distributed.

The Brit as seen in Bereshit, Shemot and D’varim takes shape and becomes more and more defined. We learn exactly what God will provide and expects from us as (the children of Israel) B’nai Yisrael. Ultimately, God redeems the Israelites from Mitzrayim and promises complete faithfulness to us as God’s people through the Brit. We are to follow ten absolute commandments given to us by God at Sinai. The Brit makes us God’s people where we are part of the divine plan and must redeem God who redeemed us from slavery.

The Brit is about faithfulness and requires a certain mindset in caring for this specific relationship. The Brit is not renewed in every generation; it is either earned or it simply does not exist. Tracing and defining the Brit will hopefully bring us closer to God and to our People. Through our study of Torah and our Jewish observance may we, as a God’s people, strengthen our Brit with God.

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