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Parshat Sh'Mot

Parshat Sh'Mot "A new king arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph." And thus, the book of Exodus--perhaps the Jewish version of "The Greatest Story Ever Told"--begins. This new Pharaoh enslaves the Israelites because, in the years since Joseph's death, they have become "much too numerous for us" and he fears they will join forces with Egypt's enemies. The Hebrew midwives Shiphrah and Puah are told to kill all Israelite boys whom they deliver but these heroic women instead "fearing G-d...let the boys live". Pharaoh decrees that all Israelite boys born "you shall throw into the Nile". And that's where Moses comes in. When her beautiful baby boy is born, Jochebed puts him in "a wicker basket" and hides it in the reeds of the Nile, positioning her daughter Miriam nearby to keep an eye on him. (See throwback photo of my daughter standing in for Miriam.) When Pharaoh's daughter, bathing by the river, discovers the basket, Miriam offers to find a "Hebrew nurse to suckle the child". Jochebed is able to care for her child, eventually returning him to Pharaoh's daughter who raises him as her own son. "She named him Moses, explaining, 'I drew him out of the water.'" This Hebrew-born prince of Egypt flees his homeland for Midian after killing an Egyptian taskmaster whom hew sees beating an Israelite, "one of his kinsmen". There, Moses marries Zipporah, who bears him a son named Gershon. While tending his father-in-law Jethro's flock in the wilderness, Moses sees "a blazing fire" coming from a bush "...yet the bush was not consumed." And then he hears a voice calling his name. "'Moses! Moses! 'Here I am,’” Moses answers. “‘I am,' He said, 'the G-d of your father, the G-d of Abraham, the G-d of Isaac, and the G-d of Jacob.' And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at G-d." G-d tells Moses that He has chosen him to "'free My people, the Israelites from Egypt.'" "But Moses said to G-d, 'Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and free the Israelites from Egypt?' And He said, 'I will be with you.'" G-d promises Moses that he will provide evidence if the people doubt that He is with Moses: G-d turns Moses's rod into a serpent; G-d covers Moses' s hand with white scales that suddenly disappear; G-d promises that Moses will be able to turn water from the Nile into blood. "'Please , O Lord,'" begs Moses. "'...I am slow of speech and slow of tongue..." G-d tells Moses that his brother Aaron "shall serve as your spokesman, with you playing the role of G-d to him, and take with you this rod, with which you shall perform the signs.' ...Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, 'Thus says the Lord, the G-d of Israel: Let My people go...'" In other words, let the games begin. Shabbat Shalom!

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