Parashat Shemos

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Parshas Shemos is the first parsha in the Book of Shemos and the start of the six or eight weeks of Shovavim. It contains 124 pesukim. Ashkinazim read a section of Yeshayahu for the Haftora and the Sefardim read from the first chapter of Yirmiya.


[edit] Enslavement of the Jews

[edit] Passing of the Tribes

Yosef and his brothers pass away as well as the entire first generation of Jews. Yosef being the first and Levi the last at age 137. During his entire residence in Egypt, Yosef had maintained his righteousness, remaining the same Yosef who had tended his father’s flocks.[1] The Torah counts the Tribes after their passing as a display of affection although they were counted already during their life. They are likened to the stars, which Hashem takes out and in by number and by name.[2]

They included Reuvain, Shimon, Levi, Yehuda, Yissachar, Zevulon, Binyamin, Dun, Naftali, Gad, Asher who descended with their families and Yackov who along with Yosef who was previously in Egypt totaled 70 souls.

[edit] Multiplying of the Jews

At that point many of the Jewish woman began to swarme and increase, giving birth to sextuplets in each birth,[3] very greatly multiplying their population. Unlike rare recent history cases of sextuplet births where a portion of the children are generally born impaired and die soon afterwords,[4] these were common and all 6 would emerge healthy and survive. The caused the Jews to increase, become very strong and fill up the land.

[edit] New King

A new king arose over Egypt. This new Pharaoh had still recognized Yosef and his accomplishments for Egypt, yet chose to ignored this and issued his evil decrees. He remarked to his people how the Jews were more numerous and stronger than them.

[edit] The Plan

During the two years of famine, all the surrounding countries were forced to buy Egyptian food at high prices,[5] depleting their money. It was strongly predicted that at some point the Kings of Canaan would wage a war against Egypt to try to recover their wealth. This created a great worry for the Egyptians that the multiplying Jews would side with the enemy forces during an invasion, taking over the land completely and possibly annexing it to their claimed inheritance of Eretz Yisroel.[6]

Terrified, Pharaoh and his advisers gathered to devise a shrewd plan in preparation. Knowing the power of speech, each time during the meeting, they referenced a negative occurrence to themselves they would replace the word 'Egyptians' with 'the Jews',[7] since a person who curses himself ascribes his curse to others.[8]

At the start Pharaoh began speaking with a 'gentle mouth' telling them to build cities for themselves to live in.[9] They managed to fool twelve of the Tribes but not the Tribe of Levi.[10]

He placed officers above them to enforce the labor tax[11] and to afflict them with their burdens. They had them buildup and fortify the already existing but weak cities of Pithom and Raamses,[12] which were originally unfit for this.[11] These were to serve as storage centers for the country.[13] Aside from this they were tasked with the burdens of the Egyptians.[11]

They forced the Jews to do physical hard labor that crushes the body and breaks it,[11] hoping this would reduce their procreativity.[14] Yet, the more the Egyptians oppressed the Jews the more Hashem helped multiply and strengthen them, causing the Egyptians to despise them more. Each time they would look at the Jews, they were disgusted with their lives[11] and it would be like 'placing thorns in their eyes'.[15]

[edit] The Jews in Servitude

The Egyptians enslaved the Jews with back breaking labor. They embittered their lives with hard labor, with clay, bricks and all kinds of labor in the fields.

During their entire stay in Egypt the Jews retained Hebrew names and did not adopt Egyptian ones.[10] They also continued to keep the commandment of Mila and to observe Shabbos in its pre Torah form,[10] these merits brought their redemption. After the passing of the Tribes they were forced to stop circumcising but the Tribe of Levi continued despite the danger.[16] Another manifestation of the servitude was that it brought great depression and sadness upon the Jews, which accordingly hampered their ability to study and pray properly.[17]

[edit] Drowning of the Males

Informed by his astrologers that a child would be born that would redeem the Jewish Nation. In an attempt to outsmart Hashem, knowing that He only punishes 'measure for measure',[18] Pharaoh concludes[19] it is best to drown the 'redeemer' to avoid punishment as Hashem promised not bring another flood on the world. This was a miscalculation since the oath pertained to the entire world and not to the flooding of a single nation.[20] His astrologers also said this person would be stricken through water, which did end up happening when Moshe was punished for hitting the rock to produce water. Since the astrologers said it would be a boy, the decree only applied to the newborn males. Pharaoh's punishment for this was that his very own adopted grandson Moshe, who he himself raised in his home afflicted him and his country with all the plagues.[21]

[edit] The Midwives

Yocheved the wife of Amram the Levite was the head Jewish midwife of the Jewish community. In her routines she was often assisted by her daughter Miriam. While working Yocheved went by the name Shifrah, which testified to her custom to enhance, beautified and tidying up the new born infant (Mihsaperet מְשַׁפֶּרֶת).[22] It also alluded to her ability in certain cases to revive a stillborn child by placing a reed tube into his intestines and blowing into it (Shifoferet).[23] Miriam was known by the name Puah, since she cried, talked, played and cooed to the newborn infant to soothe and amuse him (Poah פּוֹעָה).[24] She was know for her childish 'Pu Pu Pu' sounds used to calm down the crying babies.[25]

Pharaoh commanded Shifra, the head midwife and her daughter to check the infant as he came out on the birthstool and if he was a male they were to kill him, but if it was a female she may live. Pharaoh cared only about the boys, because his astrologers told him that the redeemer who was destined to be born who would be a male.[24]

During this meeting Paraoh also tried to seduce them to commit immoral acts with him but they refused him.[26]

However the midwives feared Hashem and did not do listen to Paraoh, rather they enabled the boys to live, even going the extra step of supplying them water and food.[27] Pharaoh summons the midwives demanding to know why they disobeyed him. They reply that unlike Egyptian women, the Jewish women are just as experienced as a midwife, tending to give birth before they make it to scene, similar to animals who birth independently.[28]

[edit] Their Reward

Hashem rewards Yocheved and Miriam by promising to originate houses of royalty, Kohanim and Levim from their descendants. Children of Moshe where Levim while those coming from Aaron became Kohanim. Royalty of the House of Dovid emerged from the marriage of Miriam and Kolev.

[edit] Tasking the Egyptians

Seeing his original plan failed, Pharaoh commands the Egyptians to drown all newborn males in the Nile, while leaving the females to live. On the day of Moshe's birth the astrologers informed Pharaoh, telling him the redeemer had been born that day. Uncertain if he was a Jewish child or not, Pharoah instructed his nation to kill their own kids that had been born on that day.[29]

[edit] History of Moshe

[edit] Remarriage of Amram

At the advise of his daughter Miriam, Amram remarries Yocheved the daughter of Levi, causing the entire nation to follow suite and return their divorced wives.

[edit] Moshe is Born

Yocheved conceived and bore a son. She saw him that he was good.

[edit] Hiding

Moshe is hidden in the house for three months.

[edit] In Nile

When she could no longer hide him, Yocheved created a small ark out of reeds, smearing it with clay and pitch and puts Moshe inside and leaves him at the edge of the Nile. Miriam stood from afar, to know what would happen to him. Pharaoh's daughter went down to bathe in the Nile along with her maid servants. As they walked along the Nile Batya saw the basket in the midst of the, marsh sending her maidservant, and she took it. She opened it and she saw a weeping lad. She had compassion on Moshe, correctly assuming that he was a Jewish child. Miriam who had been watching all along, approached Batya and offered call her a Jewish woman to nurse the baby. Upon Batya's confirmation, Miriam went and called, Yocheved, Moshe's mother. Batya told her to take the child and nurse him, saying she will pay her for her services. Yocheved took Moshe and nursed him.

[edit] Growing up by Pharaoh

When the child grew up, Yocheved brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, and he became like her son. She named him Moses saying how she drew him from the water.

[edit] Moshe Kills Egyptian

When Moshe grew up, he went out to see the burden of his brothers. He saw an Egyptian man striking one of his Jewish brothers. Moshe turned this way and that way, when he saw that there was no one lookin, he struck the Egyptian and buried him in the sand.

[edit] Dassan and Aviram

The next day when Moshe went out he saw Dassan and Aviram, two Jews quarreling. Moshe demanded from the wicked one why he was going to strike his friend. He retorted asking Moshe who apointed his a man, prince and judge over them and if he planed on slaying them just as he had slain the Egyptian. Moshe became frightened, realizing the his act had become known.

[edit] The Execution

Pharaoh heard of this incident and sought to slay Moshe

[edit] Saved from the Sword

It is much harder to escape from a human that wants to kill or damage a person then from an animal or other natural calamity, since the human possess free will and can continue pushing forward even if he is being directed to cease. Moshe was fully aware of this as the executioner wielded the sword upon him but he also understood that he too had the free will to push away any fear and confusion and maintain a state of complete nullification to Hashem in total faith and 'Truth'. By doing this perfectly he was able to nullify the power of the sword wielded by a human and his neck transformed into a state of marble.[30]

[edit] Escape to Midyon

[edit] Rescue of Yisro's Daughters

Moshe fled from Pharaoh to the land of Midian and sat down by a well. He saw how seven girls the daughters of the chief of Midian came and drew water, filling the troughs to water their father's flocks. When all the other shepherds came and drove them away, Moshe arose, rescuing them and watered their flocks.

When the daughters returned to their father Reuel, he asked them how they had managed to return so quickly that day. They replied that an Egyptian man had rescued them from the shepherds and he also drew water for them and their flocks. Upon hearing this Yisro reprimanded them for leaving him and asked them to invite him to eat bread.

[edit] Marriage to Tziporah

Moshe agreed to stay with Yisro, and he gave his daughter Tzipporah as a wife to Moshe.

[edit] Birth of Gershom

Tzipporah bore Moshe a son and he named him Gershom after his circumstances of being a stranger in a foreign land.

[edit] Sending the Redeemer

[edit] Death of Pharaoh

In those many days that the king of Egypt died. The Jews sighed from the labor, and they cried out. Their cry ascended to Hashem who heard their cry and remembered His covenant with Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. Hashem saw the Jews and He knew.

[edit] The Burning Bush

Moshe was pasturing the flocks of his father in law Yisro and led them behind the desert until he came to Chorev the mountain of Hashem. An angel of Hashem appeared to Moshe in a flame of fire from within a thorn bush, the thorn bush was burning with fire but was not being consumed. Moshe approached to see this great spectacle why the thorn bush was not burning up. Hashem saw that Moshe had turned to see and He called to him from within the thorn bush saying "Moshe, Moshe". Moshe replied "Here I am". Hashem warned Moshe not to draw near and to take the shoes off his feet, since the place where he stood was holy land.

[edit] Mission

Hashem then identified Himself as the G-D of his forefathers Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. Moshe hid his face because he was afraid to look toward Hashem. Hashem said that he had seen the affliction of His people in Egypt, knows their pain and heard their cry because of their slave drivers and the oppression that the Egyptians are oppressing them. He had descended to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians and to bring them from Egypt to a good and spacious land, flowing with milk and honey. This was currently occupied by the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivvites, and the Yevusites. Hashem announced to Moshe that he will send him to Pharaoh to take the Jews out of Egypt.

[edit] The Refusal

Moshe asked who is he that he should go to Pharaoh and take the Jews out of Egypt. Hashem promised that He will be with Moshe. He then gave him a sign that when he takes the people out of Egypt they will worship Hashem on mountain they currently stood on. Moshe continued, wanting to know what to reply to the Jews when he tell them the G-D of their fathers sent him and they demand to know His name. Hashem replied the name was Ekyeh Asher Ekyeh (I will be what I will be). He should go tell the Jews that Ekyeh had sent him to them who is the G-D of their forefathers Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. This is His name forever and this is how Hashem should be mentioned in every generation.

[edit] Moshe's Arguments

For seven days Moshe put up an argument, refusing the mission. One of his arguments was that he would encounter opposition from wicked Jews, as occurs in every generation that the wicked oppose the Tzadik. This did end up happening numerous times through Dassan, Avrom and their cohorts.[31] Additionally he knew that before they could be redeemed, the Jews would have to go through a very intense test that they were likely to fail. This happened just as he predicted, when the Jews lost faith in him during the 6 months of increased labor after his first revelation.[32] Aside from these reasons, Moshe was also aware that this was likely not going to be the 'final redemption' and that the Jews would have to continue to undergo various forms of exile.[33]

[edit] The Signs

[edit] Near Death

[edit] Returning to Yisro

While living in Midyon Moshe had credited his stature to Yisro. Once Yisro relocated to the Jewish encampment in the desert, he prided himself as being the father-in-law of King Moshe.[34]

[edit] Meeting Aaron

[edit] Moshe and Aron in Egypt

[edit] Approaching Pharaoh

[edit] Who is YKVK

Pharaoh refused to acknowledge that there was one G-d that ruled over all the various powers in the world, yet after the plagues he was forced to admit it.[31]

[edit] Intensifying of Labor

It is the nature of reality then whenever a salvation begins, the Sitra Acher rises against it, now prosecuting with even greater strength to strengthen the suffering. This is comparable to two men fighting, as one is about to lose he strengthens himself with all his remaining strength to put up a final battle. When the Jews accepted Moshe as the redeemer, it sparked the redemption which triggered a final strengthened assault from the crumbling Sitra Achra.[31]

This was a very hard test for the Jews and specifically then they should have strengthened themselves with faith in Hashems message through His faithful tzadik Moshe and to practice 'thanking Hashem in both the good and the bad'. Had they or any other future generation done this completely, it would have led to the 'final redemption'.[31]

[edit] Complaint of the Police

Most of the righteous Jews past this test, continuing to believe in Moshe. However Dason and Aviram[31] rallied the masses falsely against Moshe until they even convinced a group to openly confront Moshe.[31] Pretending they were being zealous for the sake of Hashem and representing the Jewish Nation, they said "Hashem should see and judge", passing the judgment to Heaven. This was a great travesty on their end to say such a statement to Moshe who was sacrificing his entire essence for the nation.[31]

[edit] Moshe's Accusation

Moshe suffered greatly from this confrontation and out of pain complained to Hashem for having sent him.[31] Moshe reiterated how he had predicted something like this would take place during his refusal to assume the role of the redeemer by the burning bush.[31]

[edit] References

  1. ^ Rashi Shemos 1:5
  2. ^ Rashi Shemos 1:1
  3. ^ Rashi Shemos 1:7
  4. ^
  5. ^ Shover Zadim Parshas Shemos
  6. ^ Baal Haturim Shemos 1:10
  7. ^ Rashi
  8. ^ Rashi Shemos 1:10
  9. ^ Baal Haturim Shemos 1:13
  10. ^ a b c Baal Haturim Shemos 1:1
  11. ^ a b c d e Rashi Shemos 1:11
  12. ^ Ikar Sifsey Chachamim
  13. ^ Rashi
  14. ^ Ikar Sifsey Chachamim
  15. ^ Rashi
  16. ^ Midrash
  17. ^ Likutay Halachos, Eruvay Techumin 6:18
  18. ^ Ikar Sifsey Chachamim
  19. ^ Ikar Sifsey Chachamim
  20. ^ Rashi Shemos 1:10
  21. ^ Baal Haturim Shemos 1:22
  22. ^ Rashi
  23. ^ Baal Haturim Shemos 1:15
  24. ^ a b Rashi Shemos 1:15
  25. ^ Rashi
  26. ^ Baal Haturim Shemos 1:17
  27. ^ Rashi
  28. ^ Rashi
  29. ^ Rashi
  30. ^ Likutay Halachos YD Hil Milah 5:26
  31. ^ a b c d e f g h i Likutay Halachos CM Prikah vteniah 4:14
  32. ^ Likutay Halachos
  33. ^ Likutay Halachos, Hilchos Matana 5:47
  34. ^ Rashi Shemos 18:1

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