October 27, 2020 |

My Weekly Drash (a mini D'var Torah) - Sh'mot (2)

Upon seeing the burning bush in Parshah Sh’mot, Moses is instructed, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground.” (Exo. 3:5) For those who’ve been watching “Sex and the City,” you may need to be reminded that shoes are more often associated with the dirt and filth of the streets than with high fashion. It’s why the Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at President Bush last month. Whatever else it was, it demonstrated the journalist’s utter contempt for Bush. (Striking someone with your shoe is considered a grievous insult in Arab cultures.) Yet our Etz Hayyim chumash offers another interpretation to consider: in the ancient world, shoes were a sign of having the means to afford such an item. It is a symbol not of fashion, but of comfort. It’s why we are enjoined from wearing leather shoes on Yom Kippur. By removing his shoes, Moses identifies with the shoeless masses he will soon be leading, as well as those who were comfortably shod.

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Daniel M. Kimmel

Joined: October 2, 2007

Daniel M. Kimmel is a Boston area film critic, lecturer and author. He does these weekly mini-lessons for the Mishkan Tefila Brotherhood's newsletter. You are free to use them for similar purposes.

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