TORAH READING FOR 21 TEVET 5783 Jan 13-14, 2023
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
Theodore Parker, a 19th century Unitarian transcendentalist
Being a part of, contributing to and connecting with Temple Kol Hamidbar helps us fulfill our three-fold purpose as a Beit ha-Tefillah (House of Prayer), a Beit ha-Midrash (House of Study) and a Beit ha-Knesset (House of Community). Please commit yourself to supporting our “Shul”, “Kal”, “Synagogue”. A heartfelt Todah Rabah to those who have already done so!
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/shmot
Sh’mot (שְׁמוֹת — Hebrew for “names”) – Ex. 1:1-6:1
These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each coming with his household: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah; Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin; Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. – Exodus 1:1-4
- The new king of Egypt makes slaves of the Hebrews and orders their male children to be drowned in the Nile River. (1:1-22)
- A Levite woman places her son, Moses, in a basket on the Nile, where he is found by the daughter of Pharaoh and raised in Pharaoh’s house. (2:1-10)
- Moses flees to Midian after killing an Egyptian. (2:11-15)
- Moses marries Zipporah, the daughter of Midian’s priest. They have a son named Gershom. (2:16-22)
- God calls Moses from a burning bush and commissions him to free the Israelites from Egypt. (3:1-4:17)
- Moses and Aaron request permission from Pharaoh for the Israelites to celebrate a festival in the wilderness. Pharaoh refuses and makes life even harder for the Israelites. (5:1-23)
From Wikipedia.org https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shemot_(parsha)#Haftarah
The haftarah for the parashah is:
- for Ashkenazi Jews: Isaiah 27:6–28:13 and 29:22–23
The parashah and haftarah in Isaiah 27 both address how Israel could prepare for God’s deliverance. Rashi in his commentary on Isaiah 27:6–8 drew connections between the fruitfulness of Isaiah 27:6 and Exodus 1:4, between the killings of Isaiah 27:7 and God’s slaying of Pharaoh’s people in, for example, Exodus 12:29, and between the winds of Isaiah 27:8 and those that drove the Reed Sea in Exodus 14:21.
- for Sephardi Jews: Jeremiah 1:1–2:3
The parashah and haftarah in Jeremiah 1 both report the commissioning of a prophet, Moses in the parashah and Jeremiah in the haftarah. In both the parashah and the haftarah, God calls to the prophet, the prophet resists, citing his lack of capacity, but God encourages the prophet and promises to be with him.
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/shmot
By: Jonathan K. Crane
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH and REFLECTION
For Torah Study, instead of the portion from the Book of Exodus that is read on this Shabbat, we will read the Sefardi Haftarah (a selection from the prophets) following this portion, Jeremiah 1:1-2:3. You can read this week’s Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Exodus.1.1-6.1 and the Haftarah we will be studying at https://www.sefaria.org/ https://www.sefaria.org/Jeremiah.1.1-2.3
From “The Torah / A Women’s Commentary” edited by Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph.D.
שמות Sh’mot – Exodus 1:1-6:1
Another View – by Susan Niditch, p. 324
THE LIBERATION of the people Israel from slavery in Egypt begins with the saving acts of women. First, the midwives of the Hebrews refuse to follow Pharaoh’s edict to destroy male Hebrew children. As Tikva Frymer-Kensky has noted, when the pharaoh confronts the midwives, they tell him just what he wants to hear (Reading the Women of the Bible, 2002, p. 26). To the ruler worried about a people that “swarms “ and fills the land (1:7), Shiphrah and Puah claim that the Hebrew women are chayot (“vigorous”; or, like beasts)–creatures capable of giving birth by themselves, without the civilized intervention of professionals. When he buys their excuse, the incongruous encounter between the king-of-all-Egypt and the midwives-to-the-slaves exposes Pharaoh as a fool.
The next savior is Moses’ mother, who defies Pharaoh by hiding her son and preparing a basket that saves him from death (2:3). When Pharaoh’s own daughter discovers the crying boy among the reeds of the Nile (2:5–6), she recognizes immediately that this must be one of the Hebrew children doomed to death by her father. Moved by empathy and humanity, she too defies the king when she rescues the boy. The baby’s sister then appears, offering to secure a nursemaid, who just happens to be Moses’ own mother (2:7–9). Through this conspiracy of enterprising women who collaborate with each other across ethnic, class, and religious lines, the future leader of the Exodus is spared–and with him the entire people Israel.
The presence of these five women at the opening of this critical Israelite foundation myth is immensely significant. Deeply wise in fundamental, life-sustaining ways, these women understand instinctively that Pharaoh should be disobeyed; and, with initiative, they act on this knowledge. Ultimately, these women’s defiance demeans the male tyrant. Thus, from these women filled with a power rooted in moral reason, an ethical concern for life, and the capacity to empathize, we learn a valuable lesson in political ethics: the very weakest in society can contribute to liberation by judiciously engaging in acts of civil disobedience.
Post-biblical Interpretations – by Tal Ilan, pp. 324-326
Shiphrah and … Puah (1:15). The Rabbis are worried about unnamed women and intrigued with the Hebrew midwives. They conclude that Shiphrah and Puah are actually designations for Jochebed and Miriam (Midrash Sifrei B’midbar 78). They explain this via wordplay on the meaning of the names: Shiphrah was associated with Jochebed because she made children beautiful, and Puah was linked with Miriam because she wept over Moses. This conflation of the characters limits the number of women involved in the salvation of Moses and, by association, all Israel.
And his sister stationed herself (2:4). The Rabbis engage in creative midrash, claiming Miriam had prophetic powers. A midrash found in BT Sotah 12a–13a, among other sources, indicates that when Pharaoh decided to kill all Israelite male newborns, the Israelites chose to cease procreating, and Amram–Moses’s destined father–divorced his wife. His daughter Miriam rebuked him and described his decree as harsher than Pharaoh’s, since Amram’s action spelled disaster for females as well as males. Furthermore, Miriam prophesied that a son born to Amram would redeem Israel. Her father listened to her and remarried Jochebed, after which Moses was born. Yet, when they were forced to abandon Moses in the reeds, Amram no longer believed Miriam’s prophecy and reprimanded her. To find out whether she was right, Miriam “stationed herself” to see what would befall her brother.
The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe in the Nile (2:5). The Rabbis are also interested in naming Pharaoh’s daughter. Using a verse from I Chronicles 4:18 (“These are the sons of Bithiah daughter of Pharaoh”), they identify Bithiah as her name and interpret it as a message from God: “Moses was not your son, yet you called him your son; so too you are not my daughter, yet I call you my daughter” (Bithiah, or bat Yah, means daughter of God) (Vayikra Rabbah 1.3). This very positive attitude to this Egyptian woman downplays her foreign background.
In BT Sotah 12b, the Rabbis transform Pharaoh’s daughter into a prophet, claiming that the reason she could tell that the child in the basket was a Hebrew (2:5–6) was because of her unacknowledged prophetic capabilities. Since it is inconceivable to the Rabbis that such insight could be found in a non-Israelite woman, they thus conclude that Pharaoh’s daughter had converted. To reach this conclusion, they interpret “the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe in the Nile” (2:5) with the words “she went down to wash away her father’s idolatry.” The Rabbis are also interested in presenting Moses’ upbringing as untainted by heathen practices. They remark that a Hebrew wet nurse (ultimately his mother) was sought for Moses after he had turned down all the Egyptian wet nurses, their milk obviously not being kosher. Thus, the Rabbis are more concerned with a differentiation between Jews and Gentiles than the Bible seems to be.
and [Reuel] gave Moses his daughter Zipporah as wife (2:21). Interestingly, Zipporah’s foreign background does not seem to have been an issue for the Rabbis. When retelling the story of Moses’ marriage to Zipporah, they make Moses a greater hero than in the Bible. They do so by suggesting that the shepherds from whom Moses saves Zipporah and her sisters had actually threatened to rape them (B’reishit Rabbah 70.11). In this stereotypical, patriarchal manner, they portray the man who is to become her husband as protecting the defenseless woman from sexual danger.
יהוה encountered him and sought to kill him (4:24). In order to make sense of this mysterious story, the Rabbis fill in its gaps with the following details: Before encountering God in the desert, Moses had promised his heathen father-in-law to allow his first-born to be raised as a heathen. But God is merciless and will kill Moses unless he goes back on his word. Moses is placed in a difficult situation, which is resolved by Zipporah, who had herself made no such promise to her father. Thus, she is the one who circumcises the child (M’chilta, Yitro 1).
Zipporah … cut off her son’s foreskin (4:25). This text is about a woman circumcising a child, which in early sources was not a problem (Tosefta Shabbat 15:8); yet for the Rabbis of the Babylonian Talmud it was. In a complicated halachic discussion they maintain that some Jews are not circumcised for medical reasons yet still are considered Jews, while some gentiles (such as Arabs) are circumcised but obviously are not Jews. In this context the Babylonian Talmud disqualifies women as circumcisors. This means that if a woman were to perform circumcision, her action would not be ritually valid. At this point, the Rabbis invoke the memory of Zipporah circumcising her son. To this seeming contradiction they respond with two alternative readings. One suggests that Zipporah only gave instructions and a man who was present performed the circumcision. The other claims that Zipporah took the knife, but that Moses actually circumcised his sons (Avodah Zarah 27a).
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur”:
FOR OUR COUNTRY p.516
THUS SAYS ADONAI, This is what I desire: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of lawlessness; to let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, and take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, give clothing, and do not ignore your own kin.
O GUARDIAN of life and liberty, may our nation always merit Your protection. Teach us to give thanks for what we have by sharing it with those who are in need. Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation, and alert to the care of the earth. May we never be lazy in the work of peace; may we honor those who have [served, suffered or] died in defense of our ideals. Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion. Help us all to appreciate one another, and to respect the many ways that we may serve You. May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen.
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of abuse, brutality, conflicts, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds especially directed at individuals and specific communities including us, and war; for all those at home alone or lonely; for all those in need of physical, emotional, and mental healing. “R’fuah sh’lëmah” – a complete recovery!
We say KADDISH YATOM for those of our friends and families who have died and been buried this last week; those in the period of Sh’loshim (30 days since burial); those who have died in the last year; and those whose Yahrzeits/Anyos occur at this time; as well as the victims of brutality, conflict, disease, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds, and war.
This coming week, 21 Tevet through 27 Tevet, we lovingly remember:
Friend of Ben Caron
Syd E. Simons
TKH Memorial Board
Miriam bat Yosef
Grandmother of TKH Member Ruben Gomez
Cousin of TKH Member Mary Caron
TKH Memorial Board
Those victims of the Sho’ah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year.
“ZICHRONAM LIV’RACHAH” – MAY THEIR MEMORIES BE FOR BLESSING.
TORAH STUDY AND SHAZOOM
We will meet as usual at the regular times for Torah Study and Shazoom this evening, Friday, January 13, 2023. For the next few months we will read and discuss the Haftarah, each selection from the prophets following the weekly Torah Portion.
You can read this week’s Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Exodus.1.1-6.1 and the Haftarah we will be studying at https://www.sefaria.org/ https://www.sefaria.org/Jeremiah.1.1-2.3
Zoom regularly updates its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this evening with wine/grape juice for Kiddush and Challah for Motzi.
Topic: Torah Study – Haftarah Shemot: Jeremiah 1:1-2:3
Time: Jan 13, 2023 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Jan 13, 2023 07:30 PM Arizona
To join Torah Study and/or Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/72510500854?pwd=Z3VQZWF4U1BBZytNYmh3aHFTWkFDZz09
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
Hint: The last character of the password is the number zero.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat/Gut Shabbos
PS – About the Book of Jeremiah:
From Jewish Encyclopedia
From Jewish Virtual Library
Timelines from Wikipedia