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A Modern Orthodox Synagogue

Sefer Shemot, the Book of Exodus, recalls events which occured in an ancient past.  These events have been memorialized for all time in our holy Torah.  Somewhat incredibly, at the time that the narrative of this week's parasha is playing out- against the backdrop of a pharaonic Egypt- some of ancient Egypt's most iconic monuments, the Great Pyramids of Giza, had already been standing for some 1,300 years.  That a people can have coalesced as a civilization and culture, garnered the manpower and organization necessary, and constructed one of the Seven Wonders of the World well over a thousand years before the Biblical Exodus took place is surely astounding.  To give you a measure of appreciation of its size, at 481 feet tall, at the time of its construction the Great Pyramid became the tallest structure in the world, and would remarkably retain that title for several thousand years until 1311 CE.
The grandeur of ancient Egypt as expressed in its architecture, construction, and buildings is not limited to the Great Pyramids at Giza.  The Sphinx, which shares the Giza Plateau with the Pyramids, is probably somewhat older than its triangular neighbors.  And then there is the intricate system of irrigation canals that the ancient Egyptians constructed in order to water their crops. 
The innovation, construction, and technology of ancient Egypt were impressive by any measure.  What was less impressive; however,  was this grandiose kingdom's moral and ethical state.  Cruelty and hubris existed side by side.  In addition to such atrocities as enslaving our Israelite ancestors, and instituting an enforced decree of infanticide against male Jewish babies, the Pharaos also deifies themselves.
In a later generation, the Pharaoh even claimed to have created the Nile, the ever-reliable source of water so vital to Egyptian agriculture, both ancient and modern.  The prophet castigates the Egyptian ruler for his haughtiness, and predicts the kingdom's downfall:  "The land of Egypt shall be desolate and in ruins, and they shall know that I am the Lord.  Because he (Pharaoh) said, "The river is mine, and I have made it (Ezekiel 29:9)."
The moral is clear.  The true religious persona must cultivate within themselves an attitude of modesty and humility.  Self-aggrandizement, boasting, and haughtiness are the antithesis of true religion.
Shabbat Shalom,
 
Rabbi Peretz Robinson