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    Exodus & revolution – P’kudei

    “Exodus and Revolution” is the title of a book by the political philosopher Michael Walzer. The title is a useful summing up of the Book of Sh’mot, which ends this Shabbat.

    What we carry away with us from Sh’mot is not only the exciting human interest stories of the career and life of Moses, but also the theme of revolution. Here is a downtrodden people “yearning to breathe free” and finally succeeding in throwing off the shackles. To us as religious people the liberation was the result of Divine intervention, but it was no less dramatic and significant for all that.

    Sometimes the world lets us remind them that the human struggle for a better life was a Jewish contribution to civilisation, though most of the time they prefer to dismiss us as professional special pleaders. That is part of the age-old love-hate feeling about Jews: one moment our gifts to humanity are acclaimed, the next we are told that they don’t want us to be seen or heard.

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