Friday, January 28, 2011

Parshat Mishpatim - Welcoming the stranger

Parshat Mishpatim - Ex. 22:20. And you shall not mistreat a stranger, nor shall you oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
         Ex.23:9. And you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, since you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

Sometimes when we look carefully at our inner life, it seems there is a stranger inside.  “Did I really say that? Am I really feeling that jealous/angry/hurt? Who is this that feels and acts so prideful/so dejected? Instead of repressing these aspects of ourselves and pushing them away, the text instructs us to “know the feelings” - to empathize with the feelings that result when we are in a tight place and see no way forward. By practicing empathy and compassion for our full self, we can befriend the strange parts of ourselves and let go of the walls we have been building to keep them out. As we stop maintaining these walls that box us in to a narrow conception of “I,”  our own mitzrayim can fall away, setting us free.

May we welcome all parts of our selves home, and may we live peacefully and free among friends, both inside and out.

No comments:

Post a Comment