Fighting The Second Enslavement: Dr. Martin Luther King and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

January 16, 2017

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.


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