Saturday, January 17, 2009

Parsha Shemos- my summary (written 2007)

This parshah, Shemot, starts of reestablishing the Hebrew lineage up until that point. Then it talks about the new king arising that feels threatened by the Hebrew people. So, he chooses to lash out at them, not of just cause, but of fear that they could do something to him, if they wanted to.

Besides overtaxing and slave driving the Hebrews, they asked the midwives who deliver their babies to kill all boy babies. However, these women, just lied and told the king the women delivered without midwives, before they got there. So a new decree was issued: just throw the boys into the Nile!

They establish that they are about to tell the birth history for a Levite child. The child was rescued from the side of the Nile by Pharoah’s daughter. She names him Moses, for she drew him out of the water. She raises him, but he somehow maintains his Hebrew identity since he sticks up for the Hebrew who is being picked on by the Egyptian.

When Pharoah found out his adoptive grandson was in touch with his Hebrew heritage, he wanted his head. So, Moses had to flee to Midian, where he found his wife, Zipporah. They had a son, Gershom.

Time had passed and so, the Pharoah and king in Egypt passed away. The Hebrew people there, got a break from the hard labor that was put on them at the very start of this book (and parshah.) So, G-d gives Moses the mission to go back to Egypt and take the Hebrew people out of there. He warns him that it won’t be easy. Pharoah will be stubborn.

One of the most important aspects of this parshah is introduction of another name of G-d. The Tetragrammaton actually translates into a powerful statement about His various omni qualities. The name of the Tetragrammaton actually means “I was, I am, I will be.” On one hand, this is a testament to His existence across the timeline. One the other hand, it is a commitment to each and every one of us. All you have to do is put the words, “there for you” at the end of the name. The result is a statement that He was, is and ALWAYS will be there for you.

Another reassurance in this parshah is the Tetragrammaton’s mercy. When Moses was asked to speak on His behalf, he did not want to do it because he is not an eloquent speaker. Moses begged to not to be asked to this. The Tetragrammaton reassures him that it will be fine because after all, He is the one who makes things fine or not fine. However, Moses just couldn’t grasp that peace of mind and begged again because all he can think is that he is not an eloquent speaker. Well, He gives in and gives sends his brother, Aaron to speak for him. Now someone in shul asked why the tetragrammaton gave in to his lack of faith. I think it is so obvious: because He is merciful, even when we are lacking.

This parshah can also be used to debunk the concepts that are the basis of the christian faith. After all, if His name defines a timeline of existence then the idea that He became a finite being is absolutely preposterous. Additionally, He speaks of His powers again when He reassures Moshe that he will be able to speak to the Hebrew people. If one acknowledges His power, then that person is a lemech to think He is not powerful enough to decide how He issues rights to the kingdom, as is taught in that other faith.

I found the section about the circumcision confusing, but, now, it’s clearer. When the Tetragrammaton tells Moses that his first born son is Israel who should be sent out to worship Him. He is telling him, your first born son has a destiny for the Hebrew people and thus, he MUST be covenanted. At least that’s what’s it seems to me. When Jacob was referred to as Israel in the last book, it was because that statement had bearing on the Hebrew destiny. For whatever reason, Moses doesn’t stop his travels for the circumcision. However, Zipporah, his wife, represented women in a positive light by doing it for Moses.

The last part of the parshah establishes the fact that the Hebrew people were made as slaves. They were expected to work for no pay. They were beaten when they didn’t meet quotas. They were not permitted to leave. I would call that slavery.

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