[P> X:Y (Z)] and [S> X:Y (Z)] indicate start of a parsha p’tucha or s’tuma respectively. X:Y is Perek:Pasuk of the beginning of the parsha; (Z) is the number of p'sukim in the parsha.
Kohen - First Aliya - 17 p'sukim - 1:1-17
SDT: The opening words of the sedra/book of Shmot - V'EILEH SH'MOT - form the initial letters of V'chayav Adam Lilmod Sh'nayim Mikra V'echad Targum - And a person is obligated to review the Torah text twice and another time in translation. Baal HaTurim extends this acronym to the next two words. His whole statement is: "One who learns the sedra 2+1, singing it pleasantly, shall merit long life."
SDT: And these are the names... Reuven occurs 39 times in the Torah, Shimon 23 times, Yehuda 49, Yissachar 18, Zevulun 15, Naftali 20, Asher 20 (not counting the 1915 times the word ASHER occurs , Binyamin (two spellings) 31, Yosef 177, (the others, another time).
SDT: The final letters of the opening words (sofei teivot) rearrange to spell the word T'HILIM. When the People of Israel are in trouble (a play-on-words on Egypt - MITZRAYIM - MEITZARIM), they shall use T'hilim to help them focus their prayers to G-d, thereby meriting redemption.
SDT: Our first exile was associated with the number 70, the number associated with the members of Yaakov's family who went down to Egypt. The exile following the destruction of the first Beit HaMikdash lasted 70 years. The termination of the final exile will be associated with our dominance over, or recognition and respect by the "70 nations" of the world.
Numeric SDT: "And Yosef and all his brothers and all that generation died." This pasuk (1:6) has a g'matriya (numeric value) of 981. There is one other pasuk in the Torah with that same g'matriya - D'varim 4:4 - "And you who cling to HaShem, your G-d, are all alive today." This pasuk is one of the sources of the concept that G-d fearing people live on after their physical death. The pasuk from the beginning of Sh'mot had a certain finality sound to it. The second pasuk (its G'matriya Twin) testifies that the "Shivtei Kah" live on.
[P> 1:8 (15)] A new king "who does not know Yosef" considers the Jewish people a threat and takes measures to enslave and demoralize them.
Ironically, he is the first one to refer to us as a nation - "Am Bnei Yisrael". Sometimes it is our enemies who tell us who and what we really are. Par'o called us the Jewish Nation even before we felt that and knew that ourselves.
A new king arose... If a person sells a house to another saying that it is new, when, in fact it has been renovated, painted, etc. and made "like new", is the buyer able to demand his money back?
Says the MaHaRShaM in the name of Torat Chayim, it depends on the dispute between Rav and Shmuel as to whether it was really a new king who arose over Egypt, or if it was the same Par'o who just changed attitude and policy, etc. If the former, then the deal for the new house is tainted if the house is not actually new. If the latter opinion, then the deal stands.
SDT: VA'T'CHAYENA ET HAY'LADIM ...and they gave life to the boys". The Midrash says that not only did the midwives defy Par'o by not killing the boys, they also were responsible for saving those that might have died during childbirth. It is natural that some babies do not survive birth. The midwives were concerned that if they happened to deliver a stillborn, that it might appear as if they had carried out Par'o's orders. Their prayers were answered, and miraculously none of the babies died. Thus they are credited, not just with assisting in the births, but also with giving life to the babies.
There is a parallel idea concerning the night of the Exodus. It is said that even the normal deaths that might be expected in a large population did not occur on the night of the Exodus, lest it detract from the miraculous nature of the Night. Thus, we have then similar miracles at either end of the Mitzrayim experience.
SDT: AND THEY EMBITTERED THEIR LIVES... The trop (Torah notes) on these words seem unduly happy for such sad words. The GR"A points out the "happy" result of the unusually harsh oppression, namely, that G-d reacted to Egypt's excess by cutting down our time in bondage to 210 years from the original prophecy of 400, by counting from the birth of Yitzchak, rather than from Yaakov's descent into Egypt. Understand that this is not just an exchange of 210 years of extra harsh conditions for 400 years of regular slavery. Commentaries say that if we did not get out when we did, we would not have made it to Nationhood.
Levi - Second Aliya - 15 p'sukim - 1:18-2:10
[P> 2:1 (22)] Amram reunites with Yocheved and a baby boy is born. When he is no longer able to be hidden (some say that Moshe was three months premature; that the Egyptians knew when Yocheved was due; therefore she was able to hide him only for those three months), Yocheved prepares a water-proof basket and sets him on the river under the watchful eye of his sister.
Bat-Par'o finds Moshe and sends Miriam to bring a wet nurse for the crying infant who apparently will not nurse from an Egyptian breast. Miriam brings Yocheved, Moshe's mother, who takes Moshe until he is weaned. From that point on, Moshe is raised in the royal palace by Bat Par'o (Bitya). She names him Moshe.
SDT: Egyptian astrologers read in the stars that Israel's redeemer was soon to be born. They recommended the systematic drowning of all baby boys (including non-Jews, since they were not sure from what nation this redeemer would come). When Moshe was floated on the Nile, the astrologers reported to Par'o that Israel's redeemer was indeed "cast into the river". As a result of this not quite accurate reading of the stars, Par'o withdrew the decree to drown the boys. [This points to the notion that there is something to astrology, but it is a "power" granted and limited by G-d to some individuals.]
SDT: On the phrase: VAYEILECH ISH... And a man (from the house of Levi) went... the Baal HaTurim points out the only other occurrence of that phrase, in the book of Ruth: VAYEILECH ISH MI'BEIT LECHEM YEHUDA... In both cases, a redeemer of Israel results. In our case, Moshe Rabeinu. In Megilat Ruth, the progenitor of David HaMelech, his line, to Mashiach ben David.
"And she called his name Moses, for from the water he was drawn."
Shlishi - Third Aliya - 15 p'sukim - 2:11-25
[P> 2:23 (3)] Meanwhile, after much time passes, the king of Egypt dies (or maybe got so sick that it was like he died) and the oppression in Egypt is greatly intensified. The People react by calling out to G-d. He too, “reacts”...
SDT: Yosef was identified by the Wine Steward as a NAAR IVRI, a Jewish lad. Moshe was identified by Yitro's daughters as ISH MITZRI, an Egyptian man. Yosef was privileged to have his remains buried in the Land of Israel. Moshe did not have that same "z'chut", although it was mainly Moshe who brought Yosef's remains from Egypt to the threshold of Eretz Yisrael. Gives you pause for thought. No criticism is intended.
SDT: When Moshe realized that Datan and Aviram informed on him to Par’o, the Torah tells us that Moshe was afraid. Rashi says that we can understand that literally, and also on a deeper level. With Jews like Datan and Aviram, Moshe feared that the people of Israel might not merit redemption.
(Note that Rashi includes the p’shat (plain) meaning as well as the additional meaning. Both apply in this case. It isn't always so that the plain meaning is retained when there is a drash that is the preferred way of understanding the text.)
R'vi'i - Fourth Aliya - 15 p'sukim - 3:1-15
As we have written in some form or another on many, many occasions in Torah Tidbits... we call the TTreader's attention to Sh'mot 3:8. In one pasuk, G-d reveals His Plan for the emerging nation of Israel: To take them (us) out of Egypt (in order) to bring us into Eretz Yisrael. One pasuk. Almost without pausing between these two pieces of the Plan. (And giving us the Torah is alluded to a few p'sukim later, to complete the Grand Plan: Take us out of Egypt, give us the Torah, bring us into Eretz Yisrael. This is why we exist! Think about it.
Moshe asks "why me?". G-d assures Moshe that He will be with him and that as proof of the Divine nature of his mission, Moshe will be bringing the people back to "this spot" (Sinai) to "serve G-d" (and receive the Torah).
Furthermore, Moshe is to "reintroduce" G-d to the People. Moshe asks G-d what he should tell the People when he comes to them at G-d's command. G-d's answer spans nine p'sukim (3:14-22). G-d identifies Himself as EH-YEH ASHER EH-YEH (Alef-Hei-Yud-Hei is one of the 7 names of G-d that may not be erased. Probably the least known of the list of seven.) This name of G-d's has the meaning: I will be with you (Bnei Yisrael) in your time of trouble (in Egypt) as I will be with you in future situations of enslavement and oppression.
SDT: Baal HaTurim points out that the letters of this unusual name of G-d total 21. The initial letters of the first three names of G-d in the Thirteen Divine Attributes are YUD, YUD, ALEF = 21 (HaShem, HaShem, Keil...). The initials of the Patriarchs are ALEF, YUD, YUD = 21. The initials of the Five Books of the Torah are BET, VAV, VAV, VAV, and ALEF = 21.
At Moshe's suggestion, so to speak, G-d agreed to be identified to the people as EH-YEH, with the more comforting connotation of "I will be with you", without the implication that there will be other periods of oppression in the future. (based on Rashi).
G-d gives Moshe detailed instructions as to what to say to the people. He tells Moshe how the people will react and how Par'o will react. He tells him about the plagues and about the "friendly" reaction of the Egyptian people.
Chamishi - Fifth Aliya - 24 p'sukim - 3:16-4:17
Moshe asks "on what basis will they believe me?" G-d gives Moshe three signs to perform for Par'o and the People.
The three signs are the staff becoming a snake and then turning back to a staff. His hand inserted into his cloak and emerging stricken with TZORAAT and then being restored. Taking water from the river and spilling it on the ground and it turns to blood.
SDT: Rashi says that the first two signs were also repremands to Moshe for speaking against the people and doubting in advance their potential to believe what he would tell them. This is Lashon HaRa, and both the snake and the Tzoraat are associated with Lashon HaRa. The third sign seems to have been specifically selected by G-d (so to speak) to be a bridge and introduction to the MAKOT (plagues), the first of which was an extension, shall we say, of the third sign.
Moshe still questions G-d as to "why me"; G-d gets angry at Moshe for doubting His choice of leader. G-d informs Moshe that Aharon will assist in these matters. Moshe is instructed to have his special staff with him when he presents himself to the People and Par'o.
SDT: The Staff, HaMateh. Baal HaTurim says that there is/was a scribal custom to put Torah crowns on the TET in the word THE STAFF. This, to hint to the fact that Moshe was the ninth (TET=9) righteous individual who had the miraculous staff in hand. (Pirkei Avot tells us that the Staff was one of the items created in the instant between the Six Days of Creation and the first Shabbat B'reishit.) The previous eight are: Adam, Chanoch, No'ach, Shem, Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Yosef.
The Midrash says that Moshe had many names: Yered, Chever, Y'kutiel, Avigdor, Avi-Socho, Avi-Zanu'ach, Tovia, Heiman, Sh'maya. The Midrash further tells us that of all his names, he is only called Moshe - even by G-d - to give honor to the acts of kindness of the one who found him and saved him from the water - Bat Par'o, the future Batya (Bitya).
Rashi says that Moshe's experience at the Burning Bush and his communication with G-d there lasted for SEVEN DAYS! All during that time, G-d was trying (so to speak) to convince Moshe to undertake his mission.
Shishi - Sixth Aliya - 14 p'sukim - 4:18-31
On the way, Tzipora circumcises her son. Commentaries explain that Moshe had neither circumcised his son Eliezer because of the danger in traveling when recently circumcised, nor did he postpone his return to Egypt, which would have been in defiance of G-d's command. It seems that he was in error in not having circumcised him, hence his life was in jeopardy until Tzipora performed the circumcision. Another question on this episode concerns the acceptability of a female circumcising. Commentaries solve that problem in different ways.
SDT: Sh'mot 4:19 - Return to Egypt... for all those who pursue you have died. Rashi (quoting the Midrash and the Gemara) says that the people referred to were Datan and Aviram, and that they were still alive, but became destitude and were considered as if they were dead.
As the Bartenura and Dr. Avigdor Bonchek would ask, what was bothering Rashi that he didn't leave the simpler explanation of the verse alone? Maybe the people who sought Moshe were actually dead? (Of course if they were actually dead, they couldn't have been Datan and Aviram, who were alive much later.) The answer comes from the pasuk itself. It does not say, "those who pursued you" (BIKSHU ET NAFSHECHA). It uses the present tense, HAM'VAKSHIM ET NAFSHECHA those who pursue you. (But since they are like dead, they pose no threat.) - Attributed to the Vilna Gaon.
[P> 4:27 (29)] G-d tells Aharon to greet Moshe. Moshe tells Aharon all that has happened. They gather the elders and Aharon tells them what will occur. The People believe what they hear and bow to G-d.
SDT: Rashi says that the donkey that Moshe used to bring his family to Mitzrayim was the same one that Avraham took to the Akeida and the one that the Mashiach will ride upon. Why not a regular donkey? To tell us that these monumental events were not haphazard, but rather specially prepared parts of G-d's master plan for the world.
Sh'vi'i - Seventh Aliya - 6 p'sukim - 50:21-26
SDT: Notice that the elders are not mentioned. Rashi tells us that one-by-one, the elders "disappeared" (in fear of Par'o) as the entourage was going to Par'o, until only Moshe and Aharon were left. Because of this, it was to be this way at Sinai also. The elders were left at the foot of the mountain and Aharon and Moshe ascended. (Then Aharon stopped and Moshe proceeded to the top alone.)
Par'o refuses, questioning who this G-d of Israel is. He then increases the burden on the People (who obviously have too much free time because they ask for a 3-day release) by requiring them to also collect the straw for the raw materials of the bricks they have to make. The leaders of the People bear the brunt of the new edicts and complain to Par'o. Par'o blames Moshe; the People react with anger and disappointment. Moshe tells G-d that his efforts were counter-productive. G-d says that NOW you (Moshe) will see what G-d will do to Par'o...
Haftara - 23 p'sukim - Yeshayahu 27:6-28:13 and 29:22-23
S'fardim read the first chapter of Yirmiyahu as the haftara of Sh'mot. That chapter is the first haftara of the Three Weeks, Bein HaMeitzarim. Interesting parallel to the first haftara of enslavement in Mitzrayim. There are other sedra-haftara connections too.