Hannah's remarks for Parshat Shemot--a Hero's journey

Saturday, January 6th, 2024

By Hannah Weintraub

Moses, Esther, Judah Maccabee, Harry Potter, what do all these people have in common? They were heroes. But there’s more to it than that. This week starts Exodus, the story of the people’s escape from Egypt. But the heroes are only one part of the story. Pretty much every narrative story, fictional or not have a baseline. The story often starts with the hero in their natural homeland, then they get called to a mission, they meet someone to help them along their journey, challenges occur, and the hero often has friends, or allies along the way. For the mentor, or teacher Moses had, was G-d, same as many of the other biblical tales.

For allies, there was Aaron, his brother. The first challenge occurs, Pharaoh refuses to let the people go, so G-d sends the plagues. They face more challenges until they receive freedom. But still, they receive the challenge of the sea. Pharaoh chases the people and the sea splits. But they chase. The sea fills itself again. The fact that the sea had parted would be impossible to tell, unless you count the people who were drowning from the attempt to chase. The people celebrate. But then again, there’s still more...

The people still had a huge part in this, they chose to go with Moses; they chose faith in Moses and G-d. If they had not, we probably would have still been in Egypt. Unless someone else tried. It’s similar in Harry Potter, Harry finds out he’s a wizard and goes to Hogwarts, the call to adventure. He learns that Lord Voldemort has fallen because of him, but yet he is still out there. He meets friends, Ron and Hermione. Together they help stop bad things at Hogwarts again and again. And still, the others who believed Harry would one day kill Voldemort. Voldemort rises to power. (Oh no!) But Harry and the people work together as one to stop him and his followers.

Basically, what I mean is that every person, no matter who or what you are. Your identity, your cultural background. Though we may share religion, we are not all one perfect person. We were made in G-D’s image. Yet we don’t look perfectly alike. That would be boring. The difference is what makes us stronger as a people. Even in the darkest times, if even one person realizes that what is happening is wrong they can do something. If they share their knowledge, they too can make a difference. As Malala Yousafzai says “When the whole world becomes silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” Even in the darkest of times, there is hope, once someone says something or does something. That is the true meaning of a hero.