PARSHA ON PARADE IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY
OF MY DEAR FATHER AND REBBI:
HARAV HAGAON RAV YESHAYA SHIMANOWITZ Z'TZL ,
YESHIVAS RABAINU YAAKOV YOSEF
(RABBI JACOB JOSEPH YESHIVA - RJJ)
IN NYC FOR OVER 23 YEARS.
NIFTAR ON 20 ADAR 5758 - MARCH 18, 1998.
MAY HE BE A MAYLITZ YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL.
MY DEAR MOTHER
REBITZEN BRACHA ETEL SHIMANOWITZ A'H
WHO DEVOTED HER ENTIRE LIFE TO MY FATHER AND HIS TORAH,
NIFTERA ON 21 TEVET 5770 - WED EVE. JANUARY 6, 2010.
MAY SHE BE A MAYLITZA YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL
Menachim Z. Shimanowitz
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NO MITZVOT IN THIS PARSHA
NUMBER OF PESUKIM (SENTENCES): 124
NUMBER OF WORDS: 1763
NUMBER OF LETTERS: 6762
HAFTORA: (Additional portion, from Prophets, which is read after the Parsha)
Yeshayahu / Isaiah 27:6-28:13; 29:22-23 (Ashkenazim);
Yirmiyohu / Jeremiah 1:1-2:3 (Sephardim)
In our last episode Yaakov finally got his wish, and was living out his days in peace in Eretz Mitzrayim (the land of Egypt) in the city of Goshen. Yaakov died at the age of 147, and was buried in the Machpelah Cave in Eretz Canaan. The whole family (without the kids), went packing to attend the funeral. Little did they realize that when they returned to their homes in Goshen, this would be the last time the Bnei Yisroel (Children of Israel) would ever be allowed to leave without a few plagues under their belts and they would have to wait for a messenger from Hashem to take them out of Mitzrayim. All the brothers died, and….
As our Parsha opens, the Torah recaps the latest headlines from Goshen:
There’s a new Pharoh in town and he doesn’t know no Yosef. The man who beat the famine is forgotten!! So get on out to the mud pits and get into brick-making position ‘cause there’s a little project that Pharoh has in mind called ‘Pitom and Ramses.' The slave drivers try to crush the spirits of the Hebrew workers with backbreaking work and beatings. The more the beatings, the more the Bnei Yisroel grow in numbers.|
All this new Pharoh knows, is that there’s a heap of Hebrews multiplying into a dangerous situation. It’s time for a little population control. In those days there were no maternity wards. A Midwife came to the house to deliver the baby - and, boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy, (I bet you counted, but sometimes it was oh girl too), you better believe there were no unemployed midwives in Goshen! Those kids were shooting out six at a time.
Pharoh calls a meeting with Shifra, the head of the Midwife Union. He orders her and her assistant Puah to have all newborn Jewish males killed. (No male babies - no rebel soldiers). Shifra won’t let Pharoh’s decree “stop the pop” from exploding. The Midwives make a pact to picket Pharoh’s decree.
When Pharoh wants to know why they’re still Jewish newborn boys
around, Shifra tells Pharoh that the mothers are not calling the
midwifes for help with the deliveries, and they give birth before
the midwife gets there. Pharoh then orders that all Jewish newborn
males be drowned in the Nile River. Hashem sees to it
that this evil plan does not work, and by a miracle many of the
boys survive the dunk in the river. Hashem also rewards
Shifra and Puah for standing up to Pharoh. The future leaders
of the Bnei Yisroel - the Kohanim, Leviyim and
Kings, all descend from Shifra and Puah.
| Now Shifra is no
ordinary midwife. She is Yocheved, daughter of Levi. Her husband
is Amram, a grandson of Levi and the leader of his generation. And
it's a good thing for at least one Hebrew baby boy -- Yocheved's
own son. After she gives birth, she hides him for as long as possible.
After three months, when she can't hide him any longer, Yocheved
and her daughter, Miriam, (also known as Puah), send the baby floating
down the Nile in a little waterproof basket. Yocheved sends Miriam
to follow the floating fellow along the river.
The basket heads down the river to the palace swimming area just
in time to rendezvous with destiny. It just so happens that at
this very moment Bat-Pharoh (Pharoh's daughter, Basya)
is bathing in the Nile. She spots the basket bobbing by, but can't
reach it. But Bat-Pharoh is no quitter. And in Hashem's
eyes, that's a quality worthy of a miracle. You know what they
say: If at first your arm won't stretch, stretch again! Like a
lasso, Bat-Pharoh's arm grabs onto the basket and reels
To Bat-Pharoh's surprise, there's a weeping baby inside the basket! Well, right then and there Bat-Pharoh decides to adopt the little boy. She names the baby "Moshe" which means "drawn out of the water." But she'll need a nurse. She tries an Egyptian nurse, but the future tzaddik, Moshe, would not drink milk from the Egyptian woman. Miriam pops out of the reeds and offers to bring a Jewish nurse (her mother) to care for the baby (how convenient!). So Yocheved gets to raise her son after all... and in her own home.
| Two years go by, and finally
Moshe is brought to the palace and grows up as an Egyptian in Pharoh's
house, sheltered from the plight of his people. Goshen is a long
trip away. Eventually Moshe does hop on the bus, (oops, chariot),
to check out the action in the cities of Pithom and Ramses where
Hebrew slaves are putting the final touches on these two storage
cities. What Moshe sees just can't be right. Women doing men's tasks,
men doing women's. Suddenly he spots a task master beating the heck
out of a slave. Moshe can't hold himself back. He checks to make
sure the coast is clear, then he kills the taskmaster. Moshe buries
the body thinking that it's a done deal.
But the next day when Moshe breaks up a quarrel between two Hebrews, one snaps back at him: "And what if I decide to keep fighting? You gonna kill me like you killed that Egyptian yesterday?" Moshe knows the gig is up. There's only one thing to do. He's got to get out of Mitzrayim... and fast!
| Moshe doesn't waste any time.
He heads east towards the desert where he has many adventures as
a great king and warrior among the Ethiopian tribes. (See the
Midrash Mavin for the whole story).
Our story picks up at the mouth of a well (well, well, well... another well!) It seems that the daughters of a Midyanite named Yitro are being harassed by the shepherds of the area. Yitro has no sons, so his daughters tend the sheep - or at least they try. With all these slimy shepherds around, they could sure use a hero about now...
Da-da-da-da. Faster than a speeding chariot... more powerful than 200 slaves... able to leap tall pyramids in a single bound ..it's a future leader - on the plains... it's Moshe!
Yes, Moshe makes mincemeat out of the shepherd roughnecks. Well, when Moshe is finished defending the ladies and watering the sheep, destiny kicks in and Moshe is led to the home of Yitro for a heroes' feast. Yitro takes a liking to Moshe. (But not until after keeping him in jail for ten years, but that's another story). Next thing you know Moshe's moving in. He marries Yitro's daughter, Tzipora, and works the family business, tending sheep for a living. Moshe and Tzipora have two kids, first Gershom and later Eliezer.
Moshe is tending sheep, Pharoh dies in Mitzrayim, succeeded
by a new Pharoh who gets even tougher with the Hebrew slaves than
his predecessor. New decrees, new quotas and new whipping equipment.
If the Bnei Yisroel haven't cried out to Hashem
before, their prayers can be heard loud and clear now. And now
Hashem is ready to answer those prayers with a little
help from a shepherd in the wilderness named Moshe. Moshe is out
chasing a little lost lamb when he spots a miraculous sight:
A bush on Har (Mount) Sinai is up in flames but doesn't
seem to be burning up. As Moshe approaches this spectacular spot,
a voice cries out for Moshe to go no further until he removes
his shoes, for this is a holy place. The voice is that of Hashem.
tells Moshe that it’s time for the Bnei Yisroel to be
redeemed from slavery and gives Moshe a little mission: Go to
Pharoh and tell him to let the Bnei Yisroel leave Mitzrayim.
Now Moshe may be a great warrior but he is extremely humble. Plus
the fact that Moshe stutters, (why? That’s another story). Interested?
here, but don't forget to come back for the rest of this story).
and he doesn't think that stuttering goes well with a leader who
must represent Hashem and confront a Pharoh.
Silly Moshe! Leave everything to Hashem and redemption will be in the bag! Okay, so Hashem gives Moshe a few instructions to start the ball rolling. Firstly, when Moshe presents himself to the Zekainim (elders) of Israel and says, "Hashem has chosen me to redeem the Jews from bondage," the Zekainim will tell him, "get in line with all the other rookie saviors" - unless he knows the password. So here's the password passed down from generation to generation. When the leaders say, "What is the name of the G-d who sent you?" Moshe will answer, "Eh-yeh Asher Eh-yeh" - I will be what I will be" (pretty nifty, right?) Now, that being that (literally), Moshe is to tell these elders to go before Pharoh and demand a three day vacation for all of Bnei Yisroel so that they can offer sacrifices to Hashem in the wilderness. Of course, Pharoh will refuse the furlough but this first step will set the stage for the redemption, and once Pharoh is bombarded with plagues, he will be forced to let the Bnei Yisroel go. And when they do leave Mitzrayim, the Bnei Yisroel will leave with many riches.
Secret code or not, Moshe still doesn't think the elders will
believe him. So Hashem gives Moshe the power to perform
Moshe still makes a case with the fact that he can't speak well. (Remember the story?) To this Hashem informs Moshe that Aharon, Moshe's brother, will do all the talking.
- When Moshe throws his staff to the ground it turns into a snake. When he lifts the snake by the tail it turns back into a staff.
- Moshe places his hand on his chest. When he removes it, his hand is white with tzara’at (leprosy). When he repeats the process, the tzara’at goes away and his hand is healthy again.
- If the elders still don't believe them, Moshe can fill a pail with water from the Nile. When the water in the pail is poured onto dry land it will turn to blood.
| Moshe returns home,
takes his wife Tzipora, son Gershom, and a newborn eight day old
son and prepares to return to Mitzrayim. On the way, they
stop at a Motel for the night, and as Moshe is sleeping, a Malach
(Angel) is swallowing him up like a snake. When Tzipora sees this,
she immediately realizes that Hashem is angry at Moshe
for delaying the Brit of his newborn son. She immediately
performs the Brit on her baby, and the Malach releases
Moshe from his grasp. Moshe really was afraid to perform a Brit
while travelling, wanting to get to Mitzrayim as fast as
he could because Hashem had told him to.
So Moshe rendezvous with Aharon at Har Sinai. They discuss Hashem's plans as they head back to Mitzrayim. Aharon persuades Moshe to send his family back to Midyan, saying, “The Jews in Mitzrayim are suffering, and you bring us even more people?” As planned, they gather the elders and, using a combination of secret code and miracles, Moshe is able to convince the elders that he is telling the truth, and that Hashem has responded to their prayers. The only thing Moshe and Aharon can't do, is convince the elders to go before Pharoh.
So Moshe and Aharon head on over to Pharoh and demand that the Bnei Yisroel be given a three day break to bring sacrifices to Hashem in the Midbar (desert). Pharoh not only nixes the concept but leaves Moshe and Aharon with a policy they'll never forget: ‘Bricks Without Straw.’ “From now on no straw will be supplied for brick-making. Let them collect their own straw but make sure they make the same amount of bricks as before.” The Hebrew foremen would be whipped if the quotas are not met.|
Moshe and Aharon leave Pharoh to face an angry crowd of Hebrew foremen, “You’ve just made the situation worse for us.”
Moshe is frustrated and complains to Hashem, “Why did you send me to Pharoh, he’s even meaner than he’s ever been.”
Hashem assures Moshe, “ Now you will see what I will do to Pharoh, he will suffer from plagues and will drive the Bnei Yisroel out of his land, Mitzrayim.
Tune in next week as the plagues begin to rain down on Mitzrayim in the next exciting episode of:
the Midrash Mavin on Shmot
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