Parsha Shemot – 5777

Parshat Shemot In-Depth

“And these are the names of the children of Israel who came into Egypt . . . Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah (Exodus 1:1–2)

Although G‑d had already counted them in their lifetime, He again counted them at the time of their death, to express His love for them. For they are like the stars, which He takes out and brings in by number and name, as it is written (Isaiah 40:26): ‘He takes out their hosts by number; He calls them each by name.'(Rashi)”

Torah Sparks: Shemot 5777

“Moshe was a shepherd before God assigned him the position of leadership at the burning bush. The inspiring nature of the desert, combined with the responsibility of caring for living creatures, might be a good start for a leader who will take a people through the wilderness and deliver them the Divine Torah. But Rashi saw this also as an example of Moshe’s ethics. He suggests that Moshe took his flock to the far end of the desert to avoid the slightest risk that they might graze off others’ property. It would not be a large embezzlement scandal, only a little ‘who will notice?’ theft. But even that Moshe went to great lengths, literally, to avoid. Bad ethical habits would be a poor start for a leader.”

The First Heroes of Exodus

“The Book of Exodus opens by creating a picture of the Israelites’ life in Egypt: who was there, where they came from, and what their connections were to the stories of Genesis. Then, we read the famed words, “A new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph” (Exodus 1:8). In this single statement, the Torah signals the end of a period of peace and the beginning of an era of oppression and slavery.”


“Torah talks about Moshe’s father and mother — and not by name. (Stay tuned for next week…) It is part of Torah’s style — obviously the mother and father of Moshe would be important and of interest — but not at this point of the story. How he came to be adopted by the daughter of Pharaoh, why he ran to Midian and how he came to be tending sheep near the burning bush are the core items in the preparation for Moshe’s charge.”

Haftarah Parshat Shmot

“There is growing appreciation that when it comes to interpreting a text, that the reader is as important as the author. This statement comes to mind in the choice of this particular prophecy as the haftarah for Parshat Shmot. On the face of it, Isaiah’s message speaks of Israel’s exile at the hands of the Assyrians as punishment for disloyalty to God. This punishment was, in turn, to end with God’s redemption of the exiles by bringing them home. This pshat (plain) reading might seem a sufficient parallel to the parashah for the choice, but Rashi’s interpretation of this prophecy provided an even more vivid reason.”