A Loving Sister

Not all exiles are the same; the threat is not always the same. On a practical level, what does it mean that more than Israel kept the Shabbat, Shabbat kept Bnei Yisrael?

Pharaoh’s decree to kill all the male newborns echos two scenes in Bereshit: The pre-flood story in which the powerful men took whatever women they wanted and Pharaoh abducting Sarah in Egypt. The Brit Bein HaBetarim played itself out in Avraham’s life.

The powerful men taking whichever women they wanted was followed by Noach constructing a Teivah; Pharaoh’s decree is followed by Yocheved constructing a teivah.

The scene of Moshe’s sister Miriam looking out for Moshe, waiting to see what would happen to him is contrasted with the episode of the sale of Yosef (the exile begins when siblings hear their brother cry and walk away instead; The redemption begins with a sibling who does the opposite). Miriam creates a narrative of salvation whereby Moshe is saved; Batya knows it’s a Jewish baby and why would she defy her father!

The fact that the Egyptian princess listened to Miriam’s advice and took the baby rather than throwing him back in the water (what we would have predicted) and hired his mother, for pay, to care for him (something she longed to do and never imagined would be possible) was a microcosm of the redemption process. This all takes place because of Miriam!

Bereshit was a book of families, Shemot is a book of Bnei Yisrael. In Bereshit siblings don’t get along, in Shemot they look out for one another.

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Delivered at the OU Israel Center, December 27th, 2018 (19 Tevet 5779)

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