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Shemot ~ 5772 ~ שמות
The second book of the Torah, Shmot (Exodus) begins here which chronicles the creation of the nation of Israel. The descendants of Yaakov are enumerated at the beginning of this week’s Parsha.
Pharaoh, fearing the population explosion of Jews enslaves them. When their birthrate increases, he orders the Jewish midwives to kill all newborn males, but they secretly refuse. Yocheved gives birth to Moshe and hides him in the reeds by the Nile. Pharaoh’s daughter finds and adopts him, although she knows he is probably a Hebrew.
Miriam, Moshe’s sister, approaches the Princess and offers to find a nursemaid for Moshe and arranges for his mother Yocheved to fulfill that role. Years later as an adult, Moshe witnesses an Egyptian beating a Hebrew and Moshe kills the Egyptian. Realizing his life is in danger, Moshe flees to Midian. There he rescues Tzipporah, whose father Yitro approves their subsequent marriage.
While tending Yitro’s flock, Moshe witnesses the burning bush where G-d commands him to lead the Jewish People from Egypt to Israel, the land promised to their ancestors. Moshe fears that the Jewish People will doubt his being G-d’s agent. Therefore G-d enables Moshe to perform three miracles to validate himself: transforming his staff into a snake, his healthy hand into a leprous one, and water into blood. When Moshe declares that he is not a good public speaker G-d tells him that his brother Aharon will be his spokesman.
Aharon greets Moshe on his return to Egypt and they petition Pharaoh to release the Jews. Pharaoh responds with even harsher decrees, declaring that the Jews must produce the same quota of bricks as before but without being given supplies. The people become dispirited, but G-d assures Moshe that He will force Pharaoh to let the Jews leave.
MAFTIR Exodus 5:22 – 6:1 ~ pages 224
HAFTORAH Yeshayahu 27:6 – 28:13, 29:22 – 23 ~ pages 225 – 228
Like the Torah reading, here the prophet tells the story of the exiles of the People of Israel. As we read about Moshe at the Burning Bush of the redemption of Israel, the beginning of the redemption, the haftara contains the prophecy that there will come a day when the Great Shofar will sound, the exiles will come from their places of dispersion and they will come to serve HaShem and bow to Him in Yerushalayim. The sedra speaks of the First Redemption; the haftara refers to the Final Redemption.
Parsha Study Questions
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1. Why does the Torah repeatedly refer to the ruler of Egypt as “King of Egypt” and not Pharaoh (1:8, 15,17, 18, etc)?
2. Who placed the baby in the ‘basket’, Yocheved or Miriam? Where did Yocheved disappear to while Miriam watched over the child?
3. The word תכה (takeh) means “he will hit.” Why is the Hebrew called “evil” (רשע) if he hasn’t done anything yet (v. 2:13)?
4. The Sages emphasize Moshe’s humility when he refuses leadership. But isn’t a sign of humility not arguing with a superior (v. 3:11)?
5. The Rabbis explain that v. 4:4 again shows Moshe’s faith in G-d. How?