Blessing for a Purpose

Yael Eckstein  |  January 22, 2024

Black and white image of the exodus from Egypt

So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “This is what the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says: How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, so that they may worship me.” Exodus 10:3

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Bo, which means “come,” from Exodus 10:1–13:16.

I once heard Oprah Winfrey say that while she had been on TV since age 19, it wasn’t until decades later that she understood why. In 1994, she interviewed a nine-year-old girl who decided to raise money for charity by collecting spare change from family and friends. She raised $1,000, just from nickels and pennies.  

Oprah was inspired and asked her viewers to send in their spare change. Within a month, she had raised over $3 million for charity. It was then that Oprah realized her purpose wasn’t to be another personality on television. Her purpose was to be a successful talk-show host so that she could use her influence to do good in the world.

Blessing for a Purpose

In this week’s Torah portion, we read Moses’s popular refrain of “Let my people go!” These words, made famous by the movies, is the reoccurring phrase in the Exodus story. However, most people forget the second half of the statement. The verse continues: “so that they may worship me.”  

While this second half is far less known than the first part, I would argue that it is the more important part of the verse. Because freedom without a purpose is meaningless. In fact, freedom can be dangerous without direction. The goal of the Exodus was not to set the children of Israel free. The purpose of the Exodus was so that the Israelites could serve the LORD. 

Just as God gave the Israelites freedom for a reason, He bestows upon us blessings for a purpose. Our blessings aren’t the end goal; they are a means to fulfilling our mission and serving our LORD. We are called to share our time, talents, wealth, and energy to serve God’s purposes and make the world a better place. As Mordecai said to Esther when he asked her to use her position of influence to save the Jews of Susa, “who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).  

God has given us each many blessings, not the least of which is freedom. They are gifts to be enjoyed. But they are also tools to help us do good in the world and live our purpose. 

Your Turn:

What gifts and blessings do you enjoy? How can you use them to serve God’s purposes?