Shabbat Shemot

Mevarchin Rosh Hodesh Shevat
Candles 4:40pm January 20th
Havdalah 21st at 5:35

The new Book of Shemot that we start this week has a very important theme that is often overlooked. The crucial role of women in Jewish history and Judaism.

We read about Shifra and Pua the two midwives who defied Pharaoh’s instructions to kill the Israelite male children. Their reward was establishing dynasties within the Children of Israel. It must have taken amazing fortitude and huge risk to find ways of circumventing the orders of an absolute ruler. All the more so, given that there were plenty of men who were unwilling or incapable of such heroism and just looked for an easy way out.

Then we have Zipppora, Moshe’s wife, who takes responsibility for saving her child when it seems Moses neglected his religious duties. Next week we will read about Yochebed and Miriam and their part in defying Pharaoh’s instructions too. And Pharaoh’s daughter herself who also refused to accept her father’s commands.

We learn not just about the role of women in providing the moral strength to stand up to their enemies but also the crucial role of women in preserving family life which is at the core of Jewish survival.

And we also learn that although the rule of law must be obeyed wherever we may be living, if that law is morally wrong, we have a duty to stand up against it.