Remembering our history. That we were once slaves in Egypt.
In Judaism it’s an obligation.
Something we should never forget.
And that we should teach to our children.
… It’s an obligation the Torah stresses many times.
And it seems a little strange.
After all, it happened thousands of years ago.
Why is it so important?
Why can’t we just forget about it? And go on with our lives?
… The answer? It’s not just about history.
It’s about responsibility.
Because sometimes we think that having suffered gives us privileges.
The Torah says no!
It gives us responsibilities.
To remember what it was like.
So we are always sensitive to the suffering of others.
Rabbi Yekusiel Halberstam – the late Chassidic Rabbi of Klausenberg – is a good example.
He spent years in Nazi concentration camps. His wife and children were killed.
He survived. And went on to rebuild his community and its institutions.
… But he also built something else.
Laniado Hospital. In Netanya, Israel.
Because while he was in the concentration camp, he made a promise.
That if he survives the war, he would dedicate his life to others.
To help relieve their suffering. To make their lives better.
… And that’s exactly what he did.
And it wasn’t just the idea of building a hospital.
Which is a pretty amazing in its own right.
His commitment to help relieve suffering was felt in every little detail of the hospital.
Which is why he told the staff that their goal must always be “to cure the patient not just cure the disease”.
And he insisted that concern with their pain was crucial to that goal.
Asked which of two types of syringe needles the hospital should purchase – one that was slightly less painful or one that was half the price – he immediately ordered the more expensive needles.
… It’s the lesson of the Exodus.
Remember what you went through.
And help others because of it.
… And it’s not just about the “big things.”
Like building and running hospitals.
It’s also about everyday situations. For each and every one of us.
… Let’s say you had a really hard time when you were new at your job.
You made some major mistakes.
And your supervisor really gave it to you. Wasn’t understanding at all.
… It was really bad.
But now that’s behind you.
And someone else is new.
And going through the same thing.
… The Torah says you have a special obligation.
Because you were there. You know what it’s like.
So you should be there for them.