​​​​​​​​This Week's Torah Thought

From Rabbi Zylberman

Our Torah portion this week relates the final plagues visited upon Egypt, which ultimately cause Pharaoh to let our ancestors go free. Jewish tradition has an ambivalent relationship with the plagues. On the one hand, we are to celebrate them as “signs and wonders” that helped secure our release from slavery. On the other hand, we are bidden to decrease our joy by taking a drop of wine for each of them from our seder cups. This ambivalence is a reminder that, while we ought to celebrate our victories, we should avoid indulging in schadenfreude, which is that charming German word for the “pleasure derived by someone from another’s misfortune.” Rejoicing in our success is one thing, celebrating the downfall of others, even our enemies, is another thing entirely. 
 

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