Shemot (Exodus 1:1-6:1)

 A new year, a new book, and a familiar yet still-exciting story to curl up with on these cold, dark winter mornings.  This week’s portion takes us all the way from a reminder of the names of the brothers who went down to Egypt, through the Hebrews’ entrapment in slavery, to that bricks without straw episode (which always reminds me of those productivity-increase initiatives at work which are NOW ONLY A MEMORY HAHAHAHA!!!  But I digress…).  In between, Pharaoh tries different schemes to weaken the Hebrews, including ordering the deaths of newborn sons.  Moses is born, hidden, found, and adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter.  Primed to fight injustice, Moses kills an abusive taskmaster and flees to Midian, where he meets and rescues the daughters of Jethro (at a well, of course) and marries one (Zipporah).  After several quiet decades as a shepherd, Moses is shown the burning bush that is not consumed and is given his assignment to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt, which he accepts only after he runs out of excuses.  On the way to Egypt, Zipporah saves Moses’ life by circumcising their son, which Moses hadn’t (why is not stated).  When he and big brother Aaron meet with the elders and then head off to Pharaoh, everything looks great.  Then Aaron and Moses are exposed to two themes which will recur with depressing frequency: (1) Pharaoh will not simply let the Hebrews go because he’s told their god wants him to and (2) the Hebrews kvetch whenever there’s a setback.  But, at the end (6:1), the Lord provides a reassuring message along the lines of, “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”

An oft-noted feature of this portion is the major role played by women.  The midwives, Shifrah and Puah (in some commentaries identified as Moses’ mother Jocheved and sister Miriam), save newborn Hebrew boys.  Jocheved saves Moses by hiding him and then placing him in that basket by the river, hopeful he will be rescued.  Pharaoh’s daughter does so, and Miriam arranges for Jocheved to be his wet nurse.  Rabbinic midrash also has Miriam indirectly responsible for Moses’ birth, by convincing her parents to resume relations, after they had separated lest they have a baby boy who would be killed under the edict.  Is all this a sign of the innate moral superiority of the women, Hebrew and Egyptian, with the men being abject cowards?  Rather, a key element is the relative invisibility and powerlessness of women.  They are never perceived as a threat, leaving them freer to operate and to act in accord with morality.  Sometimes it can help not to be taken seriously by the powers that be.

Shabbat shalom,

The world of birth is one of survival at its most basic and grubby.  I’ve been enjoying a series on PBS, “Call the Midwife,” which is based on the memoirs of a nurse midwife in London’s East End slums in the 1950’s.  The midwives and doctors respect each other and understand who steps in when.  Respecting a title instead of skill can bring disaster. For example, it is now thought that Jane Seymour’s death nine days postpartum may have been due to infection caused by incomplete removal of the placenta, probably because Henry VIII was so anxious to have his son (Edward VI) born safely that he insisted on using physicians instead of experienced midwives.  IGP


A woman in labor started shouting, “Didn’t, Can’t, Couldn’t, Wouldn’t, Shouldn’t”, and the midwife just nodded happily and said, “It looks as if she’s having lots of strong contractions.”

You Might Be A Nurse Midwife If . . . .

If you talk about seeing the “crown” and you weren’t at Buckingham Palace…….you might be a midwife

If you know that “post partum” doesn’t mean your fence is coming apart…….you might be a midwife

If you’ve ever been called by a neighbor with a farm animal in labor…….you might be a midwife

If you know that a fetoscope does not measure shoe size…….you might be a midwife

If the 36,000 mile/3 year warranty on your brand new car actually means less than one year…….you might be a midwife

If your tires are going bald faster than your husband…….you might be a midwife

If you know that a lie is not where your golf ball lands…….you might be a midwife

If you think that a “tail back” is a new kind of birthing position…….you might be a midwife

If you know a cesarean is not a salad…….you might be a midwife

If your idea of a vacation is taking a car ride outside your beeper range…… might be a midwife

If you think the only way to measure centimeters is by spreading your fingers…….you might be a midwife

If you’ve ever ran out of gas and used a breast pump and catheter as a siphon…….you might be a midwife

If you’ve ever used a speculum to put on a tight pair of shoes…….you might be a midwife

If you’ve ever put on a latex glove to remove the stuffing from a turkey…….you might be a midwife

If you think Deliverance is a childbirth movie…… might be a midwife

If you refer to your beeper as “my home phone”………you might be a midwife

If you discuss adhesions with your family at the dinner table…… might be a midwife
If you know that perineal support is not a kind of stocking…….you might be a midwife

If your realize that “breeches” are not a southern man’s trousers…… might be a midwife

If you thought the movie “Catch-22” was a story about a month in a very busy midwife’s life…… might be a midwife

If your idea of a color coordinated birthing outfit is matching the blood stains on your sweat shirt with the blood stains on your sweat pants…… might be a midwife

(sent out in 2001)

Q: What is a snake’s favorite subject in school?

A: Hisssstory.

             Submitted July 6, 2000 by Danisha D., age 10 from Wahiawa, Hawaii

Parshas Shemos on One Foot
by S. Galena Posted: 07-08-2006(Viewed 778 times)

Moshe: Ssso this burning bush ssstarts talking to me and asssks me to take off my shoess….and then it shows me these sssigns and then –
Aaron: Bottom line it for me
Moshe: I’m the new leader of the Jewissh People.
Aaron: With that lisp? Yeh, and I’m a priest

Moshe does some nifty tricks with staff.

Oldie but goodie.  It’s long, but I apparently last sent it out in 2005, so please indulge me.

Exodus of the 3 Stooges 

Chapter 1   Israel Multiplies.  Moses born; he befriends two Hebrews.
1 And the Egyptians compelled the sons of Israel to labor rigorously.
2 And the sons of Israel were fruitful, and increased greatly, and became exceedingly mighty.
3 So Pharaoh commanded his people to throw every newborn son into the Nile.
4 And one day Pharaoh’s daughter found a basket containing a child among the reeds of the river. And she had pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.”
5 And she took the child, and raised him, and called him Moses.
6 And one day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his brethren and looked on their hard labors. And he beheld two Hebrews fighting with each other, and he said to them “Cut the rumpus or I’ll moida the both of yah!”
7 And the offender, a squat man with a high voice, said, “You don’t scare me!” And he stuck out his tongue and said, “Nyaaaaa!”
8 And Moses grabbed his tongue, and he twisted it, and he pulled him several yards by it. 9 And the other Hebrew – a man with a raspy voice and strange hair – laughed mightily. And Moses smote
10 Then Moses poked their eyes and knocked their heads together.
11 Now these are the names of the Hebrews whom Moses did befriend.
12 Curly, son of Asher and Prancer, brother of Punch and Judah, first cousin to E. Gad, and distant descendant of Ramses of Los Angeles.
13 Larry, son of Hirah and Hooray, Pokus, and cousin of Esau, Ecame, and Econquered. 14 And both had come from the districts of Midian, Midian-rare, and Midian-well.

Chapter 2  The Boining Bush
1 Now Moses, Larry, and Curly set up a business wherein they sold their services for pasturing other Hebrew’s flocks. 
2 And one day when they were shearing sheep, when Curly by accident sheared off some of Larry’s hair, Larry grew angry, and lunged for him, but Moses bade them stop, and smote them both on the head.
3 And Moses sat down, but upon the shears that Curly had left beneath him, and Moses screamed, and he said, “Why, I’ll break your heads!” And he chased them into the field.
4 And there the angel of the Lord appeared to them in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush.
5 And Curly said, “Ooh, look! A boining bush! Nyuk-nyuk!”
6 And Moses said, “Quiet, you lame- brain!” and smote him on the head.
7 And then them became frightened, and turned to run, and the Lord saw, and he called to them from the midst of the bush, saying, “Hey, Moses! Hey Larry! Hey, Curly!”
8 And they said, “Nyah-ah-ah-ah!”
9 And the Lord said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground.”
10 And Larry said, “I’ll say it is! And look at all them rocks, too!”
11 And Curly laughed, and Moses smote them on the head.
12 And the Lord said, “I have seen the oppression of my people by the Egyptians. Therefore, to bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt, I will send … you!”
13 And they were unsure as to who “you” was.
14 And Moses looked at Larry, and Larry looked at Curly, and Curly – who saw he had no one to look at – trembled and clicked his teeth loudly.
15 And Moses said, “Which `you’ do You mean?”
16 And the Lord said, “You!”
17 And Moses said, “I?”
18 And Larry said, “Aye!”
19 And Curly said, “Aye-aye!” and the three Hebrews began saluting each other vigorously.
20 And the Lord said, “Cut it out!” and they did, and He continued, “Now go and gather the elders of Israel together, and say to them, `The Lord has appeared to us, saying He will bring you out of Egypt and into the land of Canaan – a land overflowing with sweets!'”
21 And Curly said, “Ooh! A candy Canaan! Nyuk-nyuk-nyuk!” And Moses smote him in the stomach, and Curly bent over and Moses smote him on the head.

Chapter 3  Hebrews given powers.
1 And Larry said, “What if they don’t listen to us, or vicey-versey?”
2 And the Lord said, “They will. Now, hold out your left hand,”
3 And Larry said to Curly, “Which one is my left hand?” And Curly said, “That one.” And Larry said, “So how do I know which one is my right hand?” and Curly said, “Why, that’s easy! The one that’s left! Nyuk-nyuk-nyuk!”
4 And Moses poked them both in the eyes.
5 And the Lord said to Larry, “Now, what is that in your hand?”
6 And Larry looked, and said, “Why, nothin’.”
7 And the Lord said, “Not that one, you nitwit! The other one!”
8 And Larry said, “Oh!” and looked and said, “Why a staff!” And the Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.” And Larry threw it on the ground and it bounced up and hit Moses on the head and stuck in his nose.
9 And Moses pulled the staff from his nose, and Larry said, “I didn’t mean it, Moses! Honest, I didn’t!”
10 And Moses said, “Of course you didn’t”, and hit him on the head with the staff.
11 And the staff became a serpent and Moses said, “Nyah-ah-ah-ah! and dropped it and it slithered up Curly’s robe, and Curly said, “Wooo woo woo woo woo woo!” And he fell to the ground and spun his body wildly in a circle.
12 And Moses and Larry lifted him and shook him and the staff fell to the ground.
13 And the Lord said, “This wonder shall help you convince the sons of Israel of the word of the Lord.”
14 But Moses pleaded and said, “Please, Your Majestic High-upness! We ain’t never been eloquential. Every time it comes to woids, it’s ixnay on the voibage, if you know what I mean!”
15 Then the Lord became angry, and said, “Who made man’s mouth? Who makes him blind? Who makes him deaf? And, indicating Curly, He said, “Who makes him dumb?
16 “Is it not I, the Lord?!”
17 And they saw His anger and they said, “Nyah-ah-ah-ah!” And they bowed down, bumping their heads together loudly.
18 And the Lord said, “Go, then, and perform this wonder before the sons of Israel. Then go to Pharaoh, and say, ‘Let my people go, so they may soive – I mean serve – Me!”
19 So Moses, Larry, and Curly assembled all the elders and the sons of Israel, and in their sight the staff became a serpent, and crawled up Curly’s robe, and he danced wildly.
20 And the people believed.

Chapter 4   “Let my people go!”
1 And afterward Moses, Larry, and Curly stood before Pharaoh and his court.
2 And the three Hebrews huddled, and Larry said, “First, shouldn’t we pay homage?” And Curly said, “I don’t know. Homage should we pay? Nyuk-nyuk-nyuk!”
3 And Moses smote them both on the head, and Curly made a wavy motion with his hand.
4 And they broke huddle and they said to the king, “We got this here message from the Lord,” and they put their fists to their mouths and made a trumpet sound. And then they sang
“Roses is red,
Violets is yellow;
Now let My people go!
Like a Pharaoh and a
decent phellow.”

5 And Curly danced while Moses and Larry clapped their hands and snapped their fingers.
6 And Pharaoh bade them stop, and said, “Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice? I will not let Israel go!”
7 And Moses said, “Wise guy, eh?”
8 And meanwhile Curly caught the eye of a young woman servant, and he slowly backed from the crowd, and he winked at her, and waved his fingers, and he approached her, saying, “Rough! Rough! Rough!”
9 And then he said, “How you doin’, Toots? Tell me, are you married or happy? Nyuk-nyuk-nyuk!” And then he offered to make her a drink, and he reached for a bottle of seltzer.
10 And Pharaoh, not noticing this, grew very angry and said, “It seems the Hebrews are too lazy to do their work these days! From now on, they will no longer have any straw to make bricks – let them gather it themselves! But their quota of bricks will not be reduced!”
11 And meanwhile Curly squeezed the seltzer handle, and the fluid sprayed across the room and struck Pharaoh in the face, and he wiped his eyes, and said, “Guards! Seize them!”
12 And the palace troops chased Moses, Larry, and Curly into the fields.
13 So the people of Israel scattered throughout the land and gathered stubble for straw, and when they saw Moses, Larry, and Curly, they smote them on their heads.

[I don’t know if the rest of Exodus has been Stooge-ifed or not.  Another retirement project? IGP]  

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2 Responses to Shemot (Exodus 1:1-6:1)

  1. stanley cohen says:

    Hi Irene,

           I usually receive two versions of your Torah portion weekly, in separate e-mails: the new post version, such as below, and a Word version (which I prefer). This week I have not received the Word version.  Have you discontinued it?


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