Posted by: mosesfromsinai | January 4, 2010

Shemos – The Virtue of the Jewish Woman

This week we begin reading from the 2nd Book of the Torah, Shemos.  The exile and suffering physically begins with the death of the final son of Yakov.  It is a hard exile that we read about and teach our children on Pesach.  However, right from the start, we can see the seeds of redemption in the making.

First we have in last week’s Parsha the statement from Yakov, before his death, that we will be redeemed.   Paroh makes the terrible decree that the boys that are born should be killed as they are exiting their mother’s womb.  (Full term abortion).  He instructs the mid-wives, Shifra and Puah, non other than Yocheved, Moshe’s mother, and Miriam, Moshe’s sister, to carry out the decree.  Now we get a chance to see what the Jewish woman is really made of.

We are told a couple of things regarding the redemption from Egypt.  First we are told that because we maintained our Jewish names and our Jewish way of dressing we were redeemed.  We are also told because of the merit of the righteous women we were redeemed.  Both are true.

From the response of Yocheved and Miriam to Paroh’s decree, we get a taste of the strength of the Jewish woman.  To defy the decree of  Paroh one may be facing death.  Yet Yocheved and Miriam refuse to carry out the decree from Paroh.  Even more, they provide food and water to ensure the mother and child will survive.

Moses is taking all this in “upstairs” watching the heroics of his mother and big sister.  (He was not yet born when Yocheved and Miriam were doing this – Moses comes along when the decree is to throw the baby boys into the Nile River.)

When Paroh confronts Yocheved and Miriam about the fact that the boys are still being born, the women have an answer and are not frightened.  They respond to Paroh saying that the boys are already born before they get to the women.  The Jewish women, Yocheved and Miriam say, are like animals that give birth without any assistance.  (They were sort of telling the truth as many of the sons of Yakov are compared to various animals, such as Yehuda is compared to a lion, Yoseph to an ox, Naftali to a swift deer etc.).  These Jewish women are brave and smart.

It is no wonder that with Jewish women like Yocheved and Miriam, the Jewish people were redeemed from Egypt.  In our time there are many Jewish women who are brave and smart and we too will be redeemed



  1. Keep working, enormous task!

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