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Posted in: World Events

Published on Dec 24, 2021 by Phyllis Chesler

Published by Phyllis Chesler Organization

A Sweet Shabbat Shmot Shalom


As we are now, amazingly, already in Shmot, I thought I’d share a D’var that I published a decade ago. You may read it in its entirety at my website or at the Arutz-Sheva/Israel National News website at the link below.

Time is short and the Jews are, as usual, in trouble. What does the Exodus teach us about what to do?

Yes, the Jews are in trouble both today and long ago, when we were slaves in Egypt. Apparently, Jews can be in trouble both as slaves and as citizens of our own Jewish state and as citizens of the world in an era in which a Jewish state exists. It's like a bad Jewish joke.

In Egypt, we are literally enslaved and we cannot save ourselves. We need God to save us --and God chooses a redeemer for us. This is how we, the "Hebrews" are pulled out of "Mitzrayim."

We have many midwives who free us from the narrow place of affliction so that we can be born as God's people.

Moshe is not raised like all the other Hebrew slaves. In a memorable act of civil disobedience, Pharaoh's own daughter saves the infant who cried out. For this act of hesed, or merciful kindness, she is midrashically and rabbinically re-named "Bat'ya, because by this act she becomes God's daughter too. Pharaoh's daughter adopts Moshe and raises him as if he is an Egyptian prince.

Moshe is a more evolved version of Yosef: someone who is both a Jew and an Egyptian. He is a Jew who knows his way around the larger, non-Jewish world --but he is also a Jew who breaks with that world with wrenching and utter finality. Ultimately, even though he has grown up away from his Jewish family, Moshe, rather paradoxically, remains close to, even dependent upon, his Jewish brother and sister, Aaraon and Miriam.

In a sense, Moshe is also the anti-Yosef. Yosef is born and reared as a Jew and remains a Jew--but he also becomes a powerful and assimilated Egyptian. Moshe is born as a Jew but is reared mainly as an Egyptian. Yosef helps Egypt store up food against a coming famine and Moshe is part of God's plan to "spoil" Egypt and to render her bare of food, food sources, first-borns, gold, silver, and clothing which are all given or lent to the Hebrews--or are really, all back pay for the 210 years of slavery.

Still, it is Moshe-the-Egyptian who becomes miraculously Jewish and who becomes God's greatest intimate.

How do we know that Moshe is Egyptian royalty? Moshe has unlimited access to Pharaoh's palace. No one stops him when he enters. One wonders if his adoptive mother Bat'ya is still there; does she accompany him to his meetings with Pharaoh? If so, how poignant, even wrenching, because the break with Egypt , when it comes, will be dramatic and final. (Here, I am reminded of the children's film, "Prince of Egypt" in which Pharaoh is conceived of as Moshe's adoptive brother and who suffers the loss of Moshe's company and loyalty. The film constitutes an interesting midrash).

Continue reading here.


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