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Home Shabbat Parashat Hashavua Portion Shemote – Jacob and I were in Egypt with King Tut AND the Beggars

Portion Shemote – Jacob and I were in Egypt with King Tut AND the Beggars

 Portion Shemote – Jacob and I were in Egypt with King Tut AND the Beggars

And there arose a new pharaoh who did not remember Joseph

In the Portion of Shemote Jacob and family have come down to Egypt.

 I love that "Fostat" – the name for the city of Cairo of King Tut and Mohammad and Maimonides and the Nile. The city is a never ending street festival! If it weren't for all the crazies there nowadays its 24/7 action and its few remaining minorities could probably propel the country to the lead Africa (it is part of Africa) into the 21st Century.

 Unfortunately Egypt may be too open to the fanatics who a few days ago murdered another 10 Coptic Christians. May the Almighty deal with them soon.

When I used to go there, I shopped in both Moslem and Coptic stores. I could sit and talk openly to the shopkeepers. Then the last time I was caught in a crossfire between  two rival groups of security police. (I hopped a cab that dawn and never asked anyone why the different sets of cops were shooting at each other)..

Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach never put down our Moslem cousins. His quote about 1967 (after the Six Day War) was "I asked the government to let me bring some of my followers from California to go around the Old City and hug every Arab cousin and we would have had peace from then on – but they didn't think that way".

It seems in 1967 and now …the world still resists the Israelite prophetic vision of bringing peace to all the world. 

Back In 1993 I was thinking more like Reb Shlomo - that maybe some progress was happening on that dream, so I went to Cairo for the first time.
(Not exactly like my "peace mission during the Gulf War" – but that was a somewhat related story – so read later on).
Cairo - ? What Kind of Mitzva is That??
 I studied archaeology in Tel Aviv for one summer and thought it made me an expert.
No I didn't dream of discovering something from the past to enlighten the future – I just wanted to see King Tut at the museum and the Maimonides Synagogue where all the manuscript pieces were discovered.

Getting sick in Luxor and being arrested in Taba and having to give my hat to a bus driver in Sinai – did not deter me from a few return trips – but back to the portion of Jacob and Moses and Pharoah.

Obviously for a while the Egyptian people were happy – with Joseph and the Israelites being there. That's how I felt walking around Cairo too.

It was a fantasy come true to visit King Tut in the Cairo Museum. According to some, maybe he was the Pharoah who was friendly to Joseph and his brothers!

The night before going I stayed up to practice my minimal Arabic in preparation for the great Shabbat morning I expected. Of course in the morning I went to synagogue to be with my sisters and brothers!

The Maimonides Synagogue was "closed for renovations", and the Great (main) Synagogue had been heavily guarded and not used all week (the soldiers always said "bukra" (tomorrow)). On Shabbat (my third try) I was allowed in and prayed there with some old Jews in that magnificent marble main Shul and got a little update from them.

Later on I joined a Russian tour group. That way I didn't have to pay on Shabbat to see all the Tut sarcophegai (there were a few – one larger than the next) and his jewels laid out as if he were lying right there in the Tut exhibit chamber – and some other great stuff in the museum.

Some say Tut lived around the time of Joseph, and others say he may have been the last Pharoah to be good to the Jews. I can say he was good to me – because on my visit some good things happened in my life.

Little things - like a few beautiful smiles (except for that guy in the bank.).

In Cairo there was the Coptic guy who sold me the drum. Then there was the girl studying art who was painting in the street.
At midnight I got on a train with a couple I met – the night train to Luxor. There I met the guy who gave me a free ride on his sailboat in the Nile.

What was the most important learning on that trip? It's a toss up.

What could be the most important – that walk down the tunnel into some ancient tomb. I saw myself clearly drawn on a giant wall! It was someone's tomb in the Valley of the Kings (depicting Israelite? slaves working for Pharoah).

That proves for me that Ashkenazi Jews can call themselves part of the original Israelites (not like some Anit-Semites say).

It also proves that I must have had some famous forbear if my exact portrait is painted right up on that wall, and preserved for some thousands of years
the beggars and the "Midnight Train Ride

Then again the most important thing might be the beggars I met in in Luxor.

Rabbi Shlomo often would visit the homeless near his Shul in Manhattan. He even taught other local Rabbis how to befriend and give charity to those poor souls living in Riverside Park.

In Egypt many many people live on the streets. They have nothing but the subsidized pita breads the government is careful to provide for the masses so they don't (or didn't?) revolt.

 In Luxor I met the beggars at the Wall.

Not the Western Wall. Not the Holy Wall. I met them at the place I would least expect to meet them.

As the sun started to set I remembered I had to pray the Mincha (afternoon) prayers.

There must be millons all over the world like the millions of poor people in Egypt. It's too bad there don't seem to be Rabbis talking to the homeless people of Luxor and Cairo like Rabbi Shlomo did in New York – and in South Africa – and wherever he went
In Luxor I found maybe the only quiet a place to pray. I climbed high up on a wall of some ancient ruin in the center of town – and I said the silent prayer while my American friends who I had met in Egypt (not Jewish ) waited below.

When I came down there was a little 4 or 5-ish-year-old raggedly dressed girl waiting there with my friends (who spoke no Arabic)..
She was saying "Our mother said that man is a holy man – said you must come have tea with us."

Naturally we had tea and talked (as well as I ould) – and left them some money and a couple of pairs of shoes! (Maybe that was part compensation for the story that the brothers old Joseph for some shoes?).

How can our hearts not go out to the Coptic victims of the constant harassment and terror in their country of 2000 years.  They are descended from the original Egyptians – not the conquering Arabs and probably not from the Roman and Greek conquerors..

Still, I have never heard a good word from their leaders about the Jews – but probably they are afraid that the Moslems would just put an end to them. It is a very sad situation – just as what the Egyptians did to the Israelites.

The face of ISIL and evil has reared itself in Egypt and not just in Iraq – so I guess we just have to keep praying and acting for peace (and carefully watching the Gaza and Lebanon and Syrian – and maybe the Jordanian  borders – and fight the lies of the UN agencies.



Shabbat Shalom


לכבוד שבת קודש


בבקשה להתפלל לרפואת: יחיאל אברהם מאיר בן חיה טויבא, רבי יאשיהו יוסף (פינטו) בן הרבנית זרי שליט"א נועה בת לאה לרפואה שלמה, אשר ורפאל בני שמחה לרפואה שלמה, זאב בן ורדה לרפואה שלמה, יהודית בת מיסה לרפואה שלמה, שולמית בת מיסה לרפואה שלמה, שלמה בן רבקה לרפואה שלמה, משה בן כמונה לרפואה שלמה, נתנאל אילן בן שיינא ציפורה, תמר בת אורית לאה, אשר ורפאל בני שמחה, שרה צפורה בת רינה בתוך שאר חולי ישראל. בבקשה להתפלל לזרע בר קיימא בקרוב לנופית הודיה בת רחל ודויד שלמה בן שושנה ולזרע בר קימא בקרוב למירב המזל בת גאולה ונועם בן לאה וחזרה בתשובה לעידן בן שולמית ושי שלומי בן שולמית ודינה תרצה בת ורדה רגינה ולבשורות טובות ישועות ונחמות לכל עם ישראל

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