Eco Rabbi: Parshat Bo – The Power of Symbols and Action

pascal-lamb

Each week Orthodox Jews read one segment of the Five Books of Moses so that they can complete the entire Five Books within the course of a year. In last week’s Eco-Rabbi post we discussed Moses’ fight for his people’s freedom. This week continues with discussing the power of symbols.

Moses finally persuaded Pharaoh to let the Jewish people leave Egypt and their state as slaves there.  Moses tells Pharaoh that the final plague will be coming. That on the coming night at midnight God will go through the houses and kill every first born.

Moses tells the people that God commands that they feast that evening on a lamb and place the lambs blood on the door frame of their houses. God explains to Moses that the Jewish people should put the blood on the door frame is as a sign for them.

If you think about it, why would God, the all-knowing, need a sign on the door-frames to tell Him where the Jews are living?

The simple answer: God doesn’t. But God is the creator of man; and God does know what man needs. There is not coincidence that all religions developed with similar concepts and ideas. Man needs symbols and reminders.

That is why Judaism has commandments. Commandments are physical implementations of philosophical concepts. We do not only meditate on different personalities of man and how God is everywhere. We take four species of plants and shake them in all directions on the festival of tabernacles. That is what man needs in order to strengthen the message – action!

Similarly, God needed the Jews to affirm their faith in Him for their own growth. They would never join as a people if they did not take those steps of placing the goat’s blood on the door-frame. The idea of trusting in Hashem is not enough. It needed to be affirmed with an action.

It’s not enough for us to think about things, we have to act on those thoughts. The practical application of this is if you don’t act on your ideas, you won’t ever get anything done. This is applicable in every aspect of our lives.

It’s a good think to think about cleaning up our planet. But it’s not enough to just plan. It’s time to act! If you were planning to install aerators your faucets, take the initiative! I’d suggest that you consider joining, or coordinating, active groups. People getting together to make a difference. Ideas are powerful, but alone they cannot change the world, actions do.

Image Credit: Nick in exsilio

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