We think of the enslavement of the Israelites in Egypt as "the enslavement," but didn't the Egyptians own slaves prior to that (albeit of a different kind)? I look at a Rashi which places the "enslavement" (or en-serf-ment --same word in Hebrew) of the Egyptians by Joseph as the middle step in two enslavements, first Egypt's everyday slavery -- in the ancient world slavery was the inevitable consequence of unpayable debt-- and second the reactive enslavement of the Israelites as the supposed cause of Egypt's decline. I see a parallel in American society from our initial enslavement of Africans and African-Americans to our recent reactive blaming of our decline on people of color rather than on our own national debt and lack of future planning. I make that case while remembering the close relationship of Dr. Martin Luther King and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, as recorded by Heschel's daughter, Susannah.
January 16, 2017