[Ellington Shul] Parsha Shemot (שמות) January 16/17, 2009 / כ' טבת תשס"ט

Personal note to members at the bottom of this message.

Ellington Candlelighting: 4:27pm
Havdalah: 5:32pm

Exodus 1:1–6:1
The Weekly Torah portion in synagogues on Shabbat, Saturday, 21 Tevet, 5769; January 17, 2009
"The Israelites were groaning under the bondage and cried out; and their cry for help from the bondage rose up to God." (Exodus 2:23.)
Pharaoh's daughter finds Moses in the Nile (painting by Edwin Long)

Seventy descendants of Jacob came down to Egypt, and the Israelites were fruitful and filled the land. Joseph and all of his generation died, and a new Pharaoh arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph. He told his people that the Israelites had become too numerous and required shrewd dealing, lest they multiply and in a war join Egypt's enemies. Therefore the Egyptians set taskmasters over the Israelites to afflict them with burdens — and the Israelites built store-cities for Pharaoh, Pithom and Raamses — but the more that the Egyptians afflicted them, the more that they multiplied. The Egyptians embittered the Israelites' lives with hard service in brick and mortar and in the field.

Pharaoh told the Hebrew midwives, who were named Shiphrah and Puah, that when they delivered Hebrew women, they were to kill the sons, but let the daughters live. But the midwives feared God, and disobeyed Pharaoh, saving the baby boys. Pharaoh asked the midwives why they had saved the boys, and the midwives told Pharaoh that the Hebrew women were more vigorous than the Egyptian women and delivered before a midwife could get to them. God rewarded the midwives because they feared God, and God made them houses. The Israelites continued to multiply, and Pharaoh charged all his people to cast every newborn boy into the river, leaving the girls alive.

Discovery of Moses (painting by Tintoretto)

A Levite couple had a baby boy, and the woman hid him three months. When she could not longer hide him, she made an ark of bulrushes, daubed it with slime and pitch, put the boy inside, and laid it in river. As his sister watched, Pharaoh's daughter came to bathe in the river, saw the ark, and sent her handmaid to fetch it. She opened it, saw the crying boy, and had compassion on him, recognizing that he was one of the Hebrew children.

Moses before the Daughter of the Pharaoh (painting by William Hogarth)

His sister asked Pharaoh's daughter whether she should call a nurse from the Hebrew women, and Pharaoh's daughter agreed. The girl called the child's mother, and Pharaoh's daughter hired her to nurse the child for her. When the child grew, his mother brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, who adopted him as her son, calling him Moses, because she drew him out of the water.

When Moses grew up, he went to his brethren and saw their burdens. He saw an Egyptian striking a Hebrew, he looked this way and that, and when he saw no one, he struck the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. When he went out the second day, he came upon two Hebrew men fighting, and he asked the wrongdoer why he struck his fellow. The man asked Moses who had made him king, asking him whether he intended to kill him as he did the Egyptian, so Moses realized that his deed was known. When Pharaoh heard, he sought to kill Moses, but Moses fled to Midian, where he sat down by a well.

Moses Defends Jethro's Daughters (painting by Giovanni Battista di Jacopo di Gaspare)

The priest of Midian's seven daughters had come to water their father's flock, but shepherds drove them away. Moses stood up and helped the daughters, and watered their flock. When they came home to their father Reuel, he asked how they were able to come home so early, and they explained how an Egyptian had delivered them from the shepherds, and had also drawn water for the flock. Reuel then asked his daughters why they had left the man there, and told them to call him back to join them for a meal.

Moses and Jethro (painting by Jan Victors)

Moses was content to live with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah to marry. Moses and Zipporah had a baby boy, whom Moses called Gershom, saying that he had been a stranger in a strange land.

The Pharaoh died, and the Israelites groaned under their bondage and cried to God, and God heard them and remembered God's covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

When Moses was keeping his father-in-law Jethro's flock at the mountain of God, Horeb, the angel of God appeared to him in a flame in the midst of a bush that burned but was not consumed. God called to Moses from the bush, and Moses answered: "Here I am." God told Moses not to draw near, and to take off his shoes, for the place on which he stood was holy ground. God identified as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, reported having seen the Israelites' affliction and heard their cry, and promised to deliver them from Egypt to Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey. God told Moses that God was sending Moses to Pharaoh to bring the Israelites out of Egypt, but Moses asked who he was that he should do so. God told Moses that God would be with him, and after he brought them out of Egypt, he would serve God on that mountain.

Moses asked God whom he should say sent him to the Israelites, and God said "I Will Be What I Will Be" (Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh), and told Moses to tell the Israelites that "I Will Be" (Ehyeh) sent him. God told Moses to tell the Israelites that the Lord (YHVH), the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, had sent him, and this would be God's Name forever. God directed Moses to tell Israel's elders what God had promised, and predicted that they would heed Moses and go with him to tell Pharaoh that God had met with them and request that Pharaoh allow them to go three days' journey into the wilderness to sacrifice to God. God knew that Pharaoh would not let them go unless forced by a mighty hand, so God would strike Egypt with wonders, and then Pharaoh would let them go. God would make the Egyptians view the Israelites favorably, so that the Israelites would not leave empty handed, but every woman would ask her neighbor for jewels and clothing and the Israelites would strip the Egyptians.

Moses predicted that they would not believe him, so God told him to cast his rod on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses fled from it. God told Moses to take it by the tail, he did so, and it became a rod again. God explained that this was so that they might believe that God had appeared to Moses. Then God told Moses to put his hand into his bosom, he did, and when he took it out, his hand was leprous, as white as snow. God told him to put his hand back into his bosom, he did, and when he took it out, it had returned to normal. God predicted that if they would not heed the first sign, then they would believe the second sign, and if they would not believe those two signs, then Moses was to take water from the river and pour it on the land, and the water would become blood. Moses protested that he was not a man of words but was slow of speech, but God asked him who had made man's mouth, so Moses should go, and God would teach him what to say. Moses pleaded with God to send someone else, and God became angry with Moses. God said that Moses' well-spoken brother Aaron was coming to meet him, Moses would tell him the words that God would teach them, he would be Moses' spokesman, and Moses would be like God to him.

Moses returned to Jethro and asked him to let him return to Egypt, and Jethro bade him to go in peace. God told Moses that he could return, for all the men who sought to kill him were dead. Moses took his wife and sons and the rod of God and returned to Egypt. God told Moses to be sure to perform for Pharaoh all the wonders that God had put in his hand, but God would harden his heart, and he would not let the people go. And Moses was to tell Pharaoh that Israel was God's firstborn son, and Pharaoh was to let God's son go to serve God, and should he refuse, God would kill Pharaoh's firstborn son.

At the lodging-place along the way, God sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a flint and circumcised her son, and touched his legs with it, saying that he was a bridegroom of blood to her, so God let him alone.

God told Aaron to go to the wilderness to meet Moses, and he went, met him at the mountain of God, and kissed him. Moses told him all that God had said, and they gathered the Israelite elders and Aaron told them what God had said and performed the signs. The people believed, and when they heard that God had remembered them and seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshipped.

Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh (painting by Benjamin West)

Moses and Aaron told Pharaoh that God said to let God's people go so that they might hold a feast to God in the wilderness, but Pharaoh asked who God was that he should let Israel go. They said that God had met with them, and asked Pharaoh to let them go three days into the wilderness and sacrifice to God, lest God fall upon them with pestilence or the sword. Pharaoh asked them why they caused the people to rest from their work, and commanded that the taskmasters lay heavier work on them and no longer give them straw to make brick but force them to go and gather straw for themselves to make the same quota of bricks. The people scattered to gather straw, and the taskmasters beat the Israelite officers, asking why they had not fulfilled the quota of brick production as before. The Israelites cried to Pharaoh, asking why he dealt so harshly with his servants, but he said that they were idle if they had time to ask to go and sacrifice to God. So the officers met Moses and Aaron as they came from meeting Pharaoh and accused them of making the Israelites to smell to Pharaoh and his servants and to give them a weapon to kill the people. Moses asked God why God had dealt so ill with the people and why God had sent him, for since he came to Pharaoh to speak in God's name, he had dealt ill with the people, and God had not delivered the people. And God told Moses that now he would see what God would do to Pharaoh, for by a strong hand would he let the people go, and by a strong hand would he drive them out of his land.

Hebrew-English Text
Hear the parshah chanted
Commentary from Conservative Judaism by the Jewish Theological Seminary
Commentary from Conservative Judaism by the Conservative Yeshiva
Commentary from Reform Judaism
Commentaries from Orthodox Judaism by Project Genesis
Commentaries from Orthodox Judaism by Chabad.org
Commentaries from Aish.com
Commentaries from Reconstructionist Judaism

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Dear Ellington Friends;

As many of you know, I have finally done what I've been saying I would do and I have moved away. I am now living in New York City's Upper West Side and I am no longer serving you as your shul's president. This saddens me greatly and is one of the reasons that I procrastinated so long in taking this step for myself. I would be very pleased if you would all allow me to continue to serve as your webmaster and to send out these email messages for you- just email me with any announcements you would like to have included!

Be sure that I will often be coming for visits, after all my brother and sister still live there and my parents and grandparents are in our cemetery. And if any of you have Facebook or Twitter accounts, please add me so that I can keep up on happenings up that way.

Have a good Shabbos and stay warm!
Elias Friedman A.S., EMT-P
אליהו מתתיהו בן צבי

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