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    Into Egypt & out of Egypt – P’kudei

    The Book of Exodus (Sh’mot) which we conclude this Shabbat begins with Israel coming to Egypt. The final haftarah of the Book ends (I Kings 8:21) with them coming out of Egypt. Sefer Sh’mot is in that sense the Book of Egypt. This was not just a country but a civilisation.

    Its drawback was not its education but its ethics, not its culture but its callousness. Human rights were limited to the indigenous Egyptians, and not extended to the alien residents or the mixed multitude who made up the rest of the population.

    Throughout history the Jewish people encountered several places of that kind. Pre-Nazi era Germany was one of the worst – cultured but callous, literate but ethically questionable.

    Jewish teaching always finds it hard in a place where the ethics are unreliable, where human beings are not accorded rights or dignity, where the Ten Commandments are not taken seriously. Egypt without the Almighty is hard to take.

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