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Shemot Summaries

Shemot 5779-2018

“Getting the Jews Out of Egypt-–Two Views”

Rabbi Ben-Zion Firer argues that Moses and G-d had different approaches regarding the process of the redemption of the Jewish people from Egypt.

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Shemot 5778-2017

“The Missing Years in the Life of Moses”

According to most calculations, Moses, the Egyptian prince, was only 20 years old when he was accused of killing an Egyptian and was forced to flee the land of Egypt. He does not return to Egypt until age 80. What happened during the intervening 60 years?

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Shemot 5777-2017

“From Whence Shall Come My Salvation?”

Sometimes the source of salvation can be traced back to the actual challenge itself.

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Shemot 5776-2016

“By What Right Does Moses Kill The Egyptian?”

The commentators are perplexed by Moses’ extremely aggressive response to the Egyptian who was beating the Hebrew. By what authority did Moses take the life of the Egyptian?

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Shemot 5775-2015

“Moses–The Mysterious Early Years”

The Torah narrative tells little about Moses’ formative years. Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov, the extraordinary commentator and compiler, fills in many of the details of Moses’ life by gathering Midrashim from many sources, reconciling them and reconstructing the early years of the life of Moses.

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Shemot 5774-2013

“G-d Recognizes His People’s Sufferings”

What was it that G-d saw in the behavior of the People of Israel that caused the Al-mighty to respond to the people’s cries at this particular time?

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Shemot 5773-2012

The Role of Exile in Jewish History

What is the role that Galut–exile–plays in the history of the Jewish people?

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Shemot 5772-2012

“A Truly Moral Man Goes Out To His Brethren”

Although Jews may prefer to regard Moses exclusively as the leader of the Jewish people, Moses clearly emerges as the shepherd of all humankind.

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Shemot 5771-2010

“Pharaoh’s Three Counselors”

The rabbis of the Midrash are not satisfied with the causes cited by Scripture (dual loyalty, or the Egyptians’ fear that the Israelites will depart and leave Egypt impoverished) that presumably lead Pharaoh to call for enslaving the Jews and killing their children. The Midrash therefore attempts to tie together all the loose ends in the story of Israel’s experiences in Egypt.

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Shemot 5770-2010

“In Those Days, In These Times”

In a single generation, unbridled adulation for Joseph turns into the enslavement of the entire Jewish people. How did it happen? Are Jews possibly facing a similar future in North America today?

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Shemot 5769-2009

“Does Moses Contradict G-d?”

In parashat Shemot, Moses seems to disagree with, indeed contradict, G-d. Despite G-d’s explicit statement that, “They shall harken to thy voice,” Moses responds that “They will not believe me, nor harken to my voice.” Our rabbis struggle over whether Moses spoke to G-d unbefittingly, or whether G-d and Moses were simply referring to different issues when they each spoke.

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Shemot 5768-2007

“Who Were the Midwives?”

How did the Jews turn from acclaimed heroes in the time of Joseph into despised enemies in the period of only 100 years? Who exactly were the heroic midwives who risked their lives by defying Pharaoh and saving the Jewish male children?

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Shemot 5767-2007

“The Etiquette of Evil”

The Ramban brilliantly responds to the question of why Pharaoh needed to deal shrewdly and in an a roundabout manner with the “Jewish Problem” of his time, rather than deal with it in a forthright and forceful manner.

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Shemot 5766-2006

“And G-d Built Them Houses”

According to tradition, the midwives who refused to follow Pharaoh’s orders and kill the male Hebrew children, were Yocheved and Miriam, mother and sister of Moses and Aaron. The commentaries suggest that when Scripture notes that G-d rewards them by building them “houses” it refers not to real houses, but rather to the dynasties of the Priesthood and Levites and the monarchy of King David. It is NJOP’s hope that many NJOP students who never knew that they were Priests and Levites will return to their Priestly and Levitic functions, and that in the time of Messiah, the Al-mighty will see fit to choose one of those students, a descendant of the tribe of Judah, to lead His people to full redemption.

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Shemot 5765-2004

“In the Merit of Miriam”

In this week’s parasha we learn of the birth and development of Moses. We also learn, albeit anonymously, of his mother, father and sister. The Midrash, however, builds up the role of Miriam (Moses’ sister), portraying her as a formidable savior and heroine of her people.

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Shemot 5764-2004

“The Message of the Burning Bush”

Why does G-d choose to reveal Himself to the world’s greatest prophet from the midst of a burning bush? What lessons reside in the endowments of a small thornbush that are reflected in the manifestation of the Divine presence? It is a message of humility on G-d’s part, and a means of elevating all of His people.

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Shemot 5763-2002

“The Making of a Concerned Jewish Leader”

Who is the child Moses and how does he merit to become the “savior” of Israel? Both the biblical texts and the Midrashic elaborations give us hints to help us understand how a child who is raised in Pharaoh’s court becomes a devoted and dynamic Jewish leader. The fact that he is raised by his biological mother, Yocheved, until he is weaned, is undoubtedly a critical factor. Although tradition is purposely ambiguous, Moses not only receives his rearing from his mother and his sister as a young child, but also from Bitya, the daughter of Pharaoh, who may very well be the secret heroine in Moses’ life and consequently a key player in the destiny of the Jewish people.

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Shemot 5762-2001

“The Circumcision of Eliezar: A Message for Busy Parents”

Moses has been summoned by G-d at the burning bush to return to Egypt and lead the people of Israel out of Egypt. Beginning his journey back to the land of Pharaoh, together with his wife and his sons, he stops at an inn where he is encountered by G-d, who seeks to kill him. Moses’ wife immediately takes a flint stone and circumcises the youngest child. What is the message that is communicated by this strange and eerie encounter?

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Shemot 5761-2001

“The Not-So-Obvious Process of Enslavement”

When the sons of Jacob and their families arrive in Egypt, they are sent to live separately from the Egyptians in the land of Goshen. Nevertheless, Pharaoh and the Egyptians are threatened by them and decide to deal wisely with the Jews, eventually resulting in the Hebrews’ brutal enslavement. How was Pharaoh able to convince the Egyptian citizens to enslave the Jews, descendants of Joseph, who, less than 100 years before, had saved all the Egyptian people from starvation?

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Shemot 5760-1999

“Commitment to Judaism: A lesson from Moshe”

“Give me four years to teach the children, and the seed I will have sown will never be uprooted.” Thus spoke the communist leader, V.I. Lenin. Could it be that Moses’s formative rearing at the hands of his mother Yocheved and sister Miriam made the difference? It is highly probable that his early childhood experience, supplemented by his stepmother Bitya’s effective rearing, leads to Moses’s exalted sense of Jewish identity and his emergence as a great Jewish leader.

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