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Parshat Sh'mot


"A new king arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph....".

These are among the first lines of the Book of Sh'mot, Exodus, and thus begins the trajectory of Jewish peoplehood. This new Pharoah hates and fears the Israelites, who are enslaved in the land where they once had status, influence, and respect (sound familiar? a historic theme). Pharoah decrees that all Israelite male babies must be thrown into the Nile. And so we come to the story of Moses. Placed in a basket and sent down the river by his mother, desperate to save him, with big sister Miriam watching from a distance, baby Moses is rescued by Pharoah's daughter and raised as her own. (Yet Moses's mother, serving as his wet nurse, is presumably able to influence and educate him.) As a young man, Moses kills a harsh Egyptian taskmaster whom he sees beating a Hebrew slave and is forced to flee to Midian. There he marries Zipporah who gives birth to their son Gershom. A new Pharoah comes to power and the Israelites "(groan) under the bondage and cried out...and G-d took notice of them." Enter the burning bush. "'Come, therefore,'" G-d tells Moses, "'I will send you to Pharoah, and you shall free My people, the Israelites, from Egypt.' But Moses said to G-d, 'Who am I that I should go to Pharoah and free the Israelites from Egypt?' And He said, 'I will be with you....'" Moses and his brother Aaron proclaim those timeless words to Pharoah: "'Let my people go...'" Needless to say, this is not the first time they will have this conversation...

Shabbat Shalom!

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