Rabbi Sherman’s Weekly Torah Commentary – December 24-25, 2021 (21 Tevet 5782)

December 24-25, 2021                                                                                              Shabbat Shemot
21 Tevet 5782                                                                               


When you witness an act of cruelty, do you stand by and watch it happen?

Or do you stand up to protect the one being hurt?


This week we begin the second book in the Torah, the book of Shemot (Exodus). Right away, we learn a lesson about how to respond when we witness acts of cruelty. Exodus begins with Pharaoh’s order to murder all the male Hebrew infants. Midwives Shifrah and Puah believe murder is wrong, and they do not obey the order. When Pharaoh challenges them, they reply: “Before the midwife can come to them, they have given birth” (Exodus 1:19). Their lie that the births happen before they can arrive excuses them from becoming accomplices. We learn from the midwives that even the most unlikely person can challenge cruelty.


Later in the story, the unlikely person is Pharaoh’s daughter. Her father has a hard heart and orders the murder of Hebrew babies. She has an open heart and insists on saving the baby in the basket.


Rabbi William G. Hamilton writes: “There is no such thing as an innocent bystander.” He is implying, of course, that one who observes cruelty and does not respond is guilty of inaction.

Rabbi Hamilton teaches that “bystanders” are invisible, but “upstanders” can change the world.



Please join in this week’s Shabbat celebrations on Channel 1960 or in the Synagogue.

(Masks and silent cell phones, please)


Friday at 4:15 PM:         Shabbat Evening Service followed by Blessings in Dining Room

Saturday at 10:00 AMShabbat Morning Service followed by Blessings in Dining Room



Torah Talk – Saturday at 1:30 PM in the Synagogue (Note new location; masks, please)



Shmoozing/Meditation – Thursday, December 23 at 3:00 PM in the Music Room (Masks, please)

This week’s “Shmoozing with Rabbi Sherman” will be a study/experiment in Jewish Meditation. Learn and experience the basics of Jewish meditation, and discover its calming benefits.



Candle lighting time for the city of Mission Viejo: Friday evening at 4:30 PM

Shabbat ends Saturday evening at 5:30 PM



Shabbat Shalom                                                                                               Rabbi Sherman