Welcome to the book of Shemos!
The parashah opens up with the twelve tribes’ generation passing on. Paroh plots against the growing Jewish population. His first target is the newborn baby boys.
During this campaign against the boys, Moshe Rabbeinu is born! His mother puts him in the river in a little basket, and the daughter of Paroh saves him. Moshe grows up and goes out to see his people.
He sees an Egyptian beating a Jew, kills the Egyptian, and buries him in the sand. The next day, he sees two Jews fighting! One of them threatens to tell Paroh that Moshe killed the Egyptian. Moshe panics and runs away to Midian. He meets his wife, Tziporah, the daughter of Yisro, and they settle there.
Hashem finally decides that it’s time to free His people from Egypt! He comes to Moshe who is shepherding his father-in-law’s sheep in Midian. Moshe follows a stray sheep to a mountain where he finds a burning bush!
Hashem asks Moshe to come and lead the Jewish people out of Egypt. Moshe doesn’ t think he is worthy of the job, but Hashem reassures him that he is. Moshe asks for a sign so the Jewish people will accept him as their leader and G-d’s messenger. Hashem tells Moshe he can tell the Jews that “I will be what I will be” and they will listen to him. Hashem gives him three more signs to show the Jews that Moshe has come from Hashem: his staff turning into a snake, leprosy on his hand, and water turning to blood.
After Moshe and Hashem finish conversing, Moshe leaves for Egypt with his wife Tziporah and their two sons, Gershom and Eliezer. Tziporah gives their younger son a bris, circumcision, on the way to Egypt.
Moshe comes to the Jewish people and they accept him, after which he and his older brother Aharon come before Paroh. They request that the Jews go on a three day journey to pray to their G-d. Paroh is not impressed and increases the workload on the Jewish people! The Egyptian taskmasters increase their cruelty towards the Jewish slaves and the Jews complain to Moshe and Aharon.
Moshe complains to Hashem, and Hashem tells Moshe that it will be a long process but with Hashem’s strong hand, Paroh will yet let the Jewish people go!
This parashah spans the first eighty years of Moshe Rabbeinu (our Rabbi)’s life, which is quite a hefty amount of time! Let’s backtrack toward the beginning of the parashah by the birth of Moshe.
After Moshe’s birth, his mother Yocheved hid him in her home for three months. (Moshe was a preemie! His mother was able to hide him until his due date when the Egyptians would come searching for her baby to see if it was a boy.) On his due date, she made a waterproof basket and placed Moshe in it, then placed the basket into the Nile River, and prayed to Hashem to protect her son.
Miriam, Moshe’s big sister, stood by the river and watched her baby brother’s progress. She watched as the daughter of Paroh extracted her little brother from the river. Miriam hurried to his side and offered to go get a Jewish woman who could nurse the baby.
Why couldn’t an Egyptian woman nurse the baby? It wouldn’t be proper for the mouth of Moshe Rabbeinu, which in the future would speak directly with Hashem panim el panim, face to face, to have taken nourishment from any woman who wasn’t Jewish. It wouldn’t be pure, kosher, any of those words you can think of – you name it. That’s why!
We learn out from this incident the halachah, the law, that a Jewish baby can only nurse from a Jewish woman.
How can this make any sense? It’s true that by Moshe, he was going to speak directly with Hashem, but what about the rest of us? I mean, I think I’m great and all, but I’m not planning to speak face to face with Hashem at all in this lifetime!
Interestingly enough, we learn from here the greatness of every Jewish person. Every Jew is so infinitely special to Hashem and has such potential, that Hashem wants us to be careful about everything that we put into our mouths at all times!
We see this from the laws of kashrus (keeping kosher). Why does anybody care what I put into my mouth? Hashem cares, because my mouth is a part of somebody holy – me! – and if I put something that isn’t holy into it, that can cause damage to me! We’re also careful with what comes out of our mouths. We watch what we say so that it should fall into the guidelines of lashon nekiyah (clean speech) and that we shouldn’t say any lashon hara (evil speech) because the mouth is a holy tool that we use to speak to our Creator! Maybe not on the same level as Moshe Rabbeinu, but we still talk to Hashem an awful lot!
What do you think? How does what comes in and out of your mouth impact your day?
Listening to Yochid V’Rabim by Avrohom Fried on his album My Fellow Jew!
Have a great Shabbos!