Thirty years of conscripted labor did not succeed in breaking the Jews’ spirit or curbing their fertility. So Pharaoh intensified their slavery by having them perform meaningless tasks. Five years after subjecting the Jews to this demoralizing labor, Moses was born to Amram, grandson of Jacob’s son Levi, and Yocheved, Levi’s daughter. Pharaoh’s astrologers discerned that the Jews’ future redeemer had been born, so Pharaoh attempted to prevent the redemption by decreeing that every newborn boy be killed.
Drowning in Egypt
וַיְצַו פַּרְעֹה לְכָל עַמּוֹ לֵאמֹר כָּל הַבֵּן הַיִּלּוֹד הַיְאֹרָה תַּשְׁלִיכֻהוּ וְכָל הַבַּת תְּחַיּוּן: (שמות א:כב)
Pharaoh gave orders to all his people: “You must cast every boy who is born into the Nile, but you must let every girl live.” Exodus 1:22

By instructing his people to “let every girl live,” Pharaoh meant that the Jewish girls should be raised as Egyptians. He thus decreed that the boys be killed physically and the girls be killed spiritually. The decree to throw the boys into the Nile also alludes to immersing the Jews in Egyptian culture, for the Egyptians worshipped the Nile as the source of their livelihood and culture.

Egypt is the prototype of all exiles. In all exiles, the ruling culture urges us to raise our children in its ways, promising that this is the path to attain material and social success. As in Egypt, resisting these promises and ensuring that our children grow up cherishing the Torah’s values is what will guarantee their material, social, and spiritual happiness, as well as their freedom from the bonds of exile.1