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Shemot Aliyah Summary

Shemot Aliyah Summary


General Overview: This week's Torah reading, Shemot, begins the Book of Exodus. Pharaoh issues harsh decrees against the Israelites, beginning decades of Jewish suffering and slavery. Moses is born and raised in the Egyptian royal palace. After killing an Egyptian, Moses escapes to Midian and marries. G‑d appears to him in a burning bush and demands that he return to Egypt to redeem the Israelites. Moses returns to Egypt with the intention of freeing the Jewish people.

First Aliyah: Jacob's sons all died. Jacob's descendents in Egypt, however, were "fruitful and swarmed and increased and became very very strong." A new Pharaoh arose, and he resolved to find a solution to the "Israelite problem." He proposed to afflict the Israelites and impose slave labor upon them, thus preventing them from multiplying. He implemented the plan, and the Israelites were forced to construct storage cities for Pharaoh. "But as much as they would afflict them, so did they multiply and so did they gain strength." Pharaoh then summoned the Hebrew midwives and instructed them to kill all the Hebrew sons that they delivered. The righteous midwives feared G‑d, however, and defied Pharaohs order.

Second Aliyah: Pharaoh called the midwives to task for not following orders. They answered that the Hebrew women were skilled in midwifery and delivered their babies before they even arrived. G‑d rewarded the midwives for their bravery. Pharaoh then commanded the Egyptians to cast all newborn males into the Nile. Moses was born. His mother, who feared for her baby's life, put him into a waterproofed basket and set him afloat in the Nile. Pharaoh's daughter came to bathe, and took the child as her own. Moses' sister Miriam, who observed the entire episode, offered to bring a Hebrew nursemaid for the child, and when Pharaoh's daughter agreed to the suggestion, Miriam called the child's mother. Moses' mother nursed the child and after he was weaned brought him back to Pharaoh's daughter.

Third Aliyah: Moses was raised in Pharaoh's palace. When he matured, he went out one day and saw an Egyptian smiting a Hebrew. Moses slew the Egyptian. Word of his deed reached Pharaoh, and Moses was compelled to flee. He escaped to Midian where he married Zipporah, the daughter of Jethro. They gave birth to a son, Gershom. Back in Egypt, meanwhile, the plight of the Israelite slaves was worsening. They cried out to G‑d, and He remembered the covenant He had made with their forefathers.

Fourth Aliyah: Moses was shepherding Jethro's flocks in the wilderness when he arrived at the "mountain of G‑d." There he saw a bush burning, yet it was not being consumed by the fire. When he approached to investigate the phenomenon, G‑d called out to him. G‑d declared that He has seen the Israelites' afflictions, and has decided to deliver them from their Egyptian masters.

Fifth Aliyah: G‑d gave Moses specific instructions: He was to gather the Israelite elders and inform them that G‑d had remembered them and would now rescue them from Egypt and bring them to a Land of Milk and Honey. Then he was to approach Pharaoh and request permission to leave along with the Israelites. G‑d informed Moses that Pharaoh would not accede to this request – but the redemption would come nonetheless, after G‑d will smite Egypt with a strong arm. At that point the Israelites would leave with much riches. G‑d gave Moses three miracles to perform before the Israelites to prove that he was sent by G‑d. When Moses protested that he was not suited to be G‑d's messenger due to his speech impediment, G‑d assigned his brother Aaron to be his spokesperson.

Sixth Aliyah: Moses took his wife and two sons and headed for Egypt. G‑d charged Moses to warn Pharaoh: "So said G‑d, 'My firstborn son is Israel. So I say to you, send out My son so that he will worship Me. And if you refuse to send him out, behold, I will slay your firstborn son.'" En route to Egypt, Moses' wife rescued her husband from divine wrath by performing a circumcision on their son. Moses met Aaron, who had come from Egypt to greet him, and together they went to Egypt, gathered the elders and performed the wondrous signs that G‑d had given Moses.

Seventh Aliyah: Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and presented G‑d's demand. Pharaoh mocked the request and instructed the Egyptian taskmasters to increase the Israelite slaves' workload. The Israelites were unable to meet Pharaoh's new demands, and were viciously beaten as a result. Moses addressed G‑d: "Why have You mistreated this people? Why have You sent me? Since I have come to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has mistreated this people, and You have not saved Your people." G‑d responded: "Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh, for with a mighty hand he will send them out..."

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Charlie San Francisco January 6, 2018

A different interpretation I was very touched to read of the relationship of Aaron and Moses in the context of this parshah. As I see it, this story demonstrates that vision, leadership, and revolution cannot come from one person alone. We must work as a team that engages each person’s strengths. Perhaps Moses’s inability to speak well is the same reason he had the ability to listen well. It shaped him to be able to recognize god’s voice, listen, and interprete the message. By contrast, aaron, who can speak well and has the charisma to be a spokesperson, may not be so good at listening. He may have not had the ability to recognize the burning bush or understand it. Only by working together could they have the effect of hearing and spreading this message. Leadership is characterized not be doing everything by one’s self, but by being part of a community and drawing from the skills and resources of that community to have a successful strategy. Reply

Preach Walter Tampa, FL via December 29, 2015

Response to Michael I wrote that so long ago. I can hardly recognize myself in the messages. I stayed with Chabad. I became frum and live a Torah life. What a great journey it has been , so far. Today I am a Chassid. My thinking has changed quite a bit. I study Talmud 4-6 hours a day as I am in a Lubavitcher Smicha program. Thank you for taking the time to comment. Reply

Michael Faiaz Vernon, CT December 29, 2015

I enjoyed the readings and it is good to know I am not alone. Reply

Peter Walter Tampa, FL via January 12, 2010

To Anonymous Thank you so much. I really need the laughs and your joyful expression. I am blessed.
Thank you, as well, for tolerating this banter. This forum is just one more way that Chabad is making my personal life and journey more enjoyable. I might try the falling on the ground thing. Peace Reply

Anonymous January 11, 2010

to Peter in Florida Sorry...Peter for your personal trouble. G-d is merciful, almighty, all knowing. I send many warm blessings to you and your family and friends in the hopes that your life becomes healthy, happy and full of joy. I support you and hope you find understanding in the Torah. I have been thinking what I would do if I met Mashiac.because i too have been doing the best I can. I am in the process of staightening up my life. My life is in progress with the focus of healing and making up to others, and doing mitzvot.
So I used to practice falling to the ground as fast as possible so I will not get too burned by the bright bright light that will come with G-d. I hope I can be worthy to survive that intense light because it will be a wonderful paradise. I believe that it will be well worth our efforts to prepare for the arrival. Reply

Peter Walter Tampa, FL via January 10, 2010

On a personal note I am not learned as perhaps anonymous is but what is said I understand in my own life experience. I ask why did G-d create me as a Jew? I have been the least suited, the worst example to the world of what G-d has commanded. And were it not for Chabad I would still be the wondering fool I have always been. Hashem is merciful , almighty, all knowing . I believe that Mashiac is coming , if I meet Mashiac the question of Moses' speech impediment will not be on my mind, but given my woefully inadequate list of mitvot I expect it will be awhile into the resurrection before I get my share, so perhaps someone will have already answered that. For me I am thirsty to try to understand what the Torah says without time to contemplate what it does not. Reply

Anonymous January 4, 2010

it may be a listening problem, not speech problem? i conveyed my perception of what already happened and shared my new thoughts not a new plan. I was wondering, Why did G-D chose a leader with a speech impediment? He could have chosen someone who could talk. What impact did having a speech issue have? G-D is almighty. He could have healed Moses or healed the followers, spoken to each one. G-D chose someone who did not want to lead. A speech impediment can cause a person pain if the listener is not patient, compassionate, open. Why did G-d want a leader with a speech impediment with pain? Who did not want to lead? Moses had to deal with doubters, complainers plus he had to follow G-D's directions. G-D put Moses in a difficult position with Mankind and in a role with heaven. Moses was a bridge of communication. So why the speech impediment? if he was talking from heaven wouldn't his speech here be perfect in terms of heaven? i suggest that our values here do not match those in heaven and maybe labored speech need not be a painful experience. Reply

Peter Walter Tampa, FL via January 3, 2010

What if? Why does anonymous wonder what if and then predict how much better we would be with this "new plan"? My hope is to follow what G-d commands for this one day. Of course, I always felt I had a better plan but lo and behold I stand corrected. I prayed today and the book said G-D is the Almighty with the power to heal. I suppose this means speech impediments as well. Reply

Anonymous January 14, 2009

speech impediment..a benefit? Moses complained because he could not lead with a speech impediment..I wonder how the world would be if we accepted leaders with speech impediments...Perhaps G-D would help us because we would need it without a person having such great speech..and giving such direct direction..??We would have to rely on developing patience, have a different idea of perfection, think more for ourselves, have compassion...the ideal imperfect world Reply

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