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| Published: December 21, 2021
Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, is worried that there are too many Jews and they are becoming too powerful. So he decides to enslave them, forcing all the Jews to do backbreaking labor working in the fields, shlepping bricks, and building cites for him. Next he calls in the two Jewish midwives, Shifrah and Puah, and tells them that whenever they are helping a woman give birth, if a boy is born, they must kill him. But the midwives know what a horrible thing to do that is, so they don’t listen to him. So Pharaoh makes a new decree that all Jewish newborn boys must be thrown into the Nile River.
Now, Jocheved gives birth to a son, and of course, she is afraid that he will be killed, so, at first, she hides him in her house. But then, when she is afraid that the Egyptians will find him, she makes him a little waterproof cradle and hides it in the long grasses near the edge of the river. As it happens, Pharaoh’s daughter comes down to the river to bathe, and she notices this strange little basket floating in the river. She sends her maid to get it, and she sees a crying little baby inside! She names the boy Moses and decides to take him home and raise him as her son. That’s how it happens that Moses, a Jewish boy, grows up in the palace.
When Moses grows up, he goes out and sees the hardships that his people, the Jews, are experiencing, and it really bothers him. One day, he sees an Egyptian beating a Jew. He is so angry that he kills the Egyptian. When he realizes that he might get into trouble, he has to escape Egypt and runs off to a faraway country called Midian. There, he helps the daughter of Jethro and marries one, Tzipporah, and becomes a shepherd to his father-in-law’s flock.
One day, while Moses is taking care of the sheep, one of them runs away from the flock. Moses goes after it, and he sees an amazing thing: a burning bush that is on fire, but not actually burning. There, he hears G‑d speaking to him and telling him to go to Pharaoh and take the Jews out of Egypt. At first Moses doesn’t want to do it, thinking, “How can I be a messenger of G‑d? And what’s if the Jews don’t listen to me?” So G‑d gives him three signs. In one, he picks up a stick and it turns into a snake, in the second his puts his hand into his jacket and it becomes all scaly, and in the third, G‑d tells him that if they still don’t listen, he should spill water from the Nile river onto the ground and it will become blood. Moses then explains his worry that he cannot talk clearly, so G‑d appoints his brother Aaron as his spokesperson.
When Moses returns to Egypt and tells the Jews that he has come to rescue them, they believe him and are very happy. But then he goes to Pharaoh and passes on G‑d’s message that he should let the Jews out of Egypt. Pharaoh responds saying, “Who do you think you are? Stop disturbing the Jews from their work!” And on that very day, Pharaoh orders that the Jews’ labor should become even harder.
The work is so hard that the Jews cannot do it, and the Egyptian taskmasters beat them. When Moses sees what has happened, he cries to G‑d. “What have You done to the Jews? Why did You send me? Since I came to Pharaoh, he has only made things worse, and You didn’t come to save them!?”
So G‑d promises that he really will save the Jews. But we have to wait until next week to find out how He does it, because with this the Parshah ends.