Parsha Talk Shmot 5784 2024

Parsha Talk with Rabbis Eliot Malomet, Barry Chesler and Jeremy Kalmanofsky. Parashat Shemot [Exodus 1:1–6:1] opens the Book of Exodus [Shemot in Hebrew]. It summarizes the end of Genesis in a few verses wherein בני ישראל [b’nai Yisrael] the biological children of the patriarch Jacob who had been renamed Israel, becomes עם בני ישראל [am b’nai yisrael], the mighty nation of Israelites. Very quickly, the anxious ending of Genesis gives way to Pharaoh’s plan to oppress the people with hard work in order to suppress their population growth, instructions to the midwives to murder infant boys in the guise of stillbirth, culminating with genocide by having all Israelite boys thrown into the Nile. We then meet Moses, who will, in turn, meet God, the God of the ancestors, and who instructs him to liberate the Israelities from bondage. Moses is a reluctant leader, claiming to be of heavy mouth and tongue; God appoints Aaron to be his mouthpiece. There first venture into diplomacy ends with abject failure, for Pharaoh only increases the burden on the Israelites. The parashah ends with God telling Moses that now he will see what God will do to Pharaoh. So there is a moment of uplift at the end.
So much for the story line. In our conversation we set the scene for the opening of the book, and among other things, discussed the character of Moses as revealed in the 3 events narrated in chapter two, where he slays an Egyptian, intervenes in a dispute between 2 Israelites, and rescues Midianite shepherdesses, leading to his marriage to one of them. What actually is the identity of Moses? We hope you enjoy it!
Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the hostages, may they be returned to their homes safely, and the soldiers defending Israel, may they be removed from harm’s way. Shabbat Shalom.