Commentary on Parashat Shemot, Exodus 1:1 - 6:1
Heroes inspire us.They move us to action when otherwise we might remain stagnant. They are especially important for children, who need role models as they figure out how they want to live in the world. Heroes can be found everywhere, not only in the usual places like history and storybooks, but even in your own extended family or neighborhood. It’s possible to find heroes just by opening one’s eyes and ears to those who are standing up for what’s right wherever they happen to be.
Our Torah portion is filled with heroes.All the heroes who sprinkle the beginning of the portion are women, mostly ordinary, but who display extraordinary courage. Pharaoh, the evil Egyptian king, orders the midwives to kill every male child when they deliver Israelite babies. The midwives disobey Pharaoh. Pharaoh then orders every male Israelite baby to be thrown into the Nile. Moses’ mother, Yocheved, hides Moses, and then his sister Miriam and the daughter of Pharoah save his life. The daughter of Pharaoh adopts him as her very own son and raises him in the Egyptian palace.
The midwives, Yocheved, Miriam, and Pharaoh’s daughter all have the strength to disobey an evil decree and therefore sustain life. As far as we know, they were not encouraged to do what they did from an outside source, and they did not consult a morals manual. Rather they had a strong sense of right and wrong and acted from that internal compass.
The more we expose our children to those who act from an internal sense of right and wrong, the more our children will develop their own internal moral compasses.
TALK TO YOUR KIDS about heroes in our Torah portion or local heroes, who had courage and a strong moral compass.
CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:
· Who are your heroes? Why?
· What did they do that inspires you?
· What would you like to do in your life to inspire others?
From “Values and Ethics: Torah Topics for Today,” available from Behrman House Publishers.
Pronunced: TORE-uh, Origin: Hebrew, the Five Books of Moses.