Greetings from UD Hillel! While you were away from campus, a big change happened in the weekly Torah reading cycle. We completed the book of Genesis and moved forward into the book of Exodus. In the very first chapter, we learn that Joseph died, and that “A new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.”(Exodus 1:8) Like many statements in the Torah, there is a debate about the meaning of this verse. Was the king of Egypt really a new king? In the Talmud (Sotah 11a) we find out that two sages took two different opinions on this matter. Rav (3rd Century Babylonia) said that this “new king” was actually a new king – a different person. Shmuel (3rd Century Babylonia) said that this new king was actually the same person, only that his decrees were new.
So what does this tell us about people? And about new semesters? We can learn from this debate that each of us could come back as totally different people next semester if we want. According to the Talmudic sage Shmuel, change in Pharaoh’s policy was equivalent to a new Pharaoh ruling Egypt. What decisions will you make this semester that will change you? Perhaps you will be a new ruler that will decide to banish procrastination. Perhaps under your reign in Spring 2015 you will resolve to attend one more Shabbat meal at Hillel. The decisions and preparations you make over break may not only change your semester, but it may change you as well.
One of the many new things happening at UD Hillel this semester is this column I’ll be writing. Each week I’ll be writing/recording/filming about something. I want to invite you all to be my partners in this project. Feel free to send me questions, comments, challenges (#ChallengeAccepted #BarneyStinson #HIMYM) or anything else you can think of that could lead to a column one week. You can message me on facebook or email me.
Happy New Year, happy break, and happy planning for a new semester.
JASON BONDER, UD HILLEL RABBINIC ASSOCIATE