Of all the portions in the Torah, Shemot most clearly illustrates the strength of the Jewish woman. It was the women who bravely resisted Pharaoh’s decree to kill newborn baby boys. It was the women who seduced their husbands in order to perpetuate the Jewish nation. And it was the women who saved the life of their future redeemer, Moses. As a baby, he was placed in a basket of reeds by Yocheved, his mother; watched by Miriam, his sister; and saved by Batya, Pharaoh’s daughter. When Miriam saw Batya discover Who was Yocheved?the crying three-month-old baby, she immediately offered a wet nurse, a Hebrew woman who would care for the baby until he was ready for palace life. This volunteer foster parent was none other than their mother, Yocheved. Relieved, Batya acquiesced, and little Moses was returned home to be well fed and well prepared for future challenges.

Who was Yocheved? We are told she was born “between the boundary walls”: that is, her birth occurred en route from Israel to Egypt. Her soul was never stifled; she was never completely subjugated by the anguish of slavery, because she maintained a refuge “outside the walls.” Her life-force originated in Israel, so her faith was constantly sustained by its connection to the Holy Land. She drew from the freedom and holiness of one wall to withstand the confinement and corruption of the other.

Do we not all live “between the walls”? Jewish women raising children in modern times have more in common with Yocheved than we think. On one hand we experience the sanctity and grace of Torah; on the other, the temptations and seductions of secular life. Take language, for example. Profanity is no longer uttered stealthily by teenagers, but spewed boldly by politicians, musicians, and parents. The language of the Bible is composed purely, so succinct in its construction and complex in its meaning. It’s impossible to find a more exemplary prototype. We can restore the sanctity of our jargon and prose not only by avoiding slang, but by using words in a constructive and consecrated way.

Modesty is another illustration. We are assaulted by images of what is fashionable in the secular world: tall, lanky women dressed in chic, body-hugging material and shoes that make walking an acrobatic feat. Religious women dressed modestly exude a beauty more radiant, but less flamboyant. Just as the Torah is wrapped in elegant layers and guarded in the ark, we too protect what is precious to us.

As women, we are like Yocheved, working to protect our family in whatever way we can. What we say and do, the way our house looks, how we All that separated him from certain death was a mere basket of reedstreat our loved ones, the guests we welcome, our reaction to mishaps, and our attitude toward giving charity all braid the fabric of that woven vessel that protects those we love.

With a trembling hand, Yocheved placed her newborn son in the waters of the Nile. All that separated him from certain death was a mere basket of reeds. Yet, despite his humble beginnings, Moses left a mark so indelible that he is unanimously regarded as the greatest leader who ever lived. Surely, some of his greatness can be attributed to Yocheved’s unique influence.

May we all be courageous enough to thrust our flimsy baskets into the tumultuous, stormy sea; and, with G‑d’s help, may we embrace the challenge of reconciling the profound and the profane.