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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Skorka

Shemot- The biblical figure of the hero

The story told in this parashah is that of the birth and early life of Moses, one of the central figures of the Bible and one of the greatest heroes in the collective memory of the Jewish people.

However, other heroic characters are also mentioned in this parashah, not so well known perhaps, but inextricably linked to the life and achievements of Moses. They are all women.

The first to appear are Shiphrah and Puah, the two midwives who ignored Pharaoh's order to kill newborn Hebrew males. God blessed them for their courage. Two other heroines are the mother and sister of Moses, Jochebed and Miriam, who risked their lives to protect him as an infant. A further heroic woman was Zipporah, the wife of Moses, who was both generous and deeply dedicated to the mission of her husband. She once also saved Moses from the wrath of God (4: 24-26).

A careful reading of the Torah teaches us that no hero, and indeed no person at all, is totally self-sufficient. No matter how great the heights that someone attains, it always happens with the help of others. No one reaches a peak through his individual effort alone.

In the case of Moses, it was especially these women who helped him become such a revered figure in the Jewish tradition.

He may be more renowned than them, but the biblical witness preserves their names and deeds for us as eternal paradigms of honor and integrity.

Shabbat Shalom!


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