Internal & External Change

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Leaving Egypt was a change. Leaving slavery is a transition.

Linking Egypt to the Present

In the contemporary world, we often talk about social change. Change is essential, but we also need social transition. Investing in the education of women is one example of promoting social transition. Studies have shown that when girls and women have more educational opportunities, rates of HIV infection are significantly lower. The education of women leads to transitions in the way individuals relate to each other, to their families, and to the range of options they see for their own lives.

When HIV prevalence drops, life expectancy and incomes rise.This in turn leads to even more educational options for women as well as men,and ultimately to the growth and improvement of society. In other words, making condoms and anti-retroviral medications more widely available promotes life-saving change, but educating women leads to transition in the way HIV/AIDS impacts the global community.

As my patient realized, change without transition is just a re-arranging of the furniture--the foundational problems of our lives stay the same, and we keep experiencing the same problems over and over again. The Israelites in this week's portion left Egypt but carried their slavery within them. In this season, as we read the Book of Numbers, may we learn from the Israelites' wandering and find a pathway out of both internal and external oppression. May we make not just changes, but also deep transitions that allow us to march forward toward a promised land of justice and freedom.

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Rabbi Elliot R. Kukla

Rabbi Elliot Kukla is a rabbi at the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center in San Francisco.