Exodus 1:1-6:1

For the full text in Hebrew and English, click here: Exodus 1:1-6:1.

In this Torah portion, the new Pharaoh does not remember Joseph. Fearing their population growth, Pharaoh makes the Israelites his slaves. Pharaoh then demands that all Israelites baby boys be killed upon birth. Moses’ mother puts her son in a basket in the river, and he is saved by Pharaoh’s daughter. When he is an adult, Moses kills an Egyptian taskmaster who was beating an Israelite slave. Moses flees to Midian and marries Tzipporah. God appears before Moses in a burning bush and tells him to free the Israelites from slavery. An apprehensive Moses returns to Egypt, where he and his brother Aaron demand that Pharaoh free the Israelite slaves. Pharaoh refuses, and God promises to punish him.

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for Sh’mot.

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Moses’ mother put him in a basket in the river

Text Studies

Social Action and Environmentalism

How 2 Midwives Tricked Pharaoh
Hannah Graham, Hillel


A Burning Within
Sam Berrin Shonkoff, AJWS


Evolving Name of God
Rabbi Jordan Cohen, KOLEL


Our Burmese Sisters
Carol Towarnicky, AJWS


Pharaoh Didn’t Know Joseph
Rabbi Daniel Moskovitz, Union for Reform Judaism


Life of the Oppressed
Rabbi Joshua Gutoff,


 Stop Making Excuses
Rabbi Michelle Missagieh


The Book of Names
Udi Hammerman, Canfei Nesharim



From the Denominations

Pluralism and Outreach

These Are the Names
Rabbi Bradley Artson, American Jewish University


Becoming a Leader
Rabbi Shimon Felix, Bronfman Youth Fellowship


Symbolic Names
Rabbi Ismar Schorsch, JTS


The Torah’s Accessibility
Rabbi Kerry Olitzky, Big Tent Judaism


Bumpy Road to Redemption
Rabbi Avraham Fischer, Orthodox Union


Political & Religious Power
Rabbi Irwin Kula, CLAL


Seeing the Broader Picture
Yossi Ziffer, UJA-Federation of New York



Leadership & Trust
Erica Brown, Partnership for Jewish Life & Learning


Parshat Shemot Quiz
Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies


Believing the Exodus Story
Rabbi Carol Balin, Women of Reform Judaism


Parshat Shemot Challah
Julie Seltzer


Parshat Shemot for Families
Torah for Families


Women as Heroes
Torah for Families


When Should Patience Trump Passion?
Torah for Families


Return to the index of weekly Torah portions.

Discover More

Reading The Prohibition Against Homosexuality In Context

The sexual relationships forbidden by the Torah are intended to prohibit non-Israelite religious practices and abuses of power.

The Evolving Name Of God

The divine name that God tells Moses at the burning bush expresses the different and evolving relationship that God has with every individual.

When Leaders Have Moral Failings

The commandment to the priests to purify themselves of sin before God reminds us to hold our leaders accountable to act ethically.