The Portion of Shemot

Exodus 1:1-6:1

This week’s Torah portion tells us of the Israelites’ slavery in Egypt, and sets the stage for their redemption over the three following portions. It recounts how Jacob’s small family grew into a mighty nation and how the Egyptians came to oppress them. It also relates Moses’s development from birth to leadership.

 

In the current cycle, this portion is read the week of January 21st, 2017.

 

 

Topic 1: Descent into Slavery

Our portion opens with the descent of Jacob’s family into Egypt. As mentioned in the Israel Bible, the text identifies the heads of families who traveled with Jacob in a list almost identical to that of Genesis 46, emphasizing the connection between the books of Genesis and Exodus. The Torah goes on to describe the… Read More »

 

 

Topic 2: A Leader is Born

Despite the order to kill all Hebrew male infants, a couple from the tribe of Levi gives birth to a baby boy. The mother hides her son for as long as she can -- three months -- before placing him in a waterproof basket on the riverbank among the reeds. The child’s sister watches after… Read More »

 

 

Topic 3: The Burning Bush

Moses takes over herding his father-in-law’s sheep. One day, as he is herding the sheep, he comes upon a strange sight: a bush that burns but is not consumed by the fire. Once He has Moses’s attention, God tells him to go to Egypt and take the Israelites out of slavery, as He has heard… Read More »

 

 

Topic 4: Return to Egypt

Upon returning from Horeb, Moses asks for his father-in-law’s blessing to go back to Egypt and see how his people are faring.   As Moses prepares for the journey, God appears to him again, reassuring him that those who sought to destroy him are dead. He also warns Moses that Pharaoh will not be quick… Read More »

 

 

Topic 5: Moses and Aaron Arrive in Egypt

The Torah tells us now that it is not by chance Aaron was on his way to meet his younger brother; God had sent him! When they finally meet, they gather the elders of Israel and tell them of God’s plan to redeem the people. The elders believe the two brothers and bow in appreciation… Read More »

 

 

Topic 6: Haftarah - Rabbi Goren’s Sounding of the Not-Yet Great Shofar

To listen to the radio broadcast of the IDF reclaiming the Temple Mount in 1967 is to relive the most thrilling modern moments of Jewish history. Amidst gunfire, young Jewish soldiers advanced through the Old City of Jerusalem, making their way to the Temple Mount until they victoriously proclaimed, “Har Habayit Biyadenu!”  Culminating this wondrous… Read More »