Exodus 1:1 - 6:1

Isaiah 27:6 - 28:13; 29:22 - 29:23

A new Pharaoh of Egypt enslaves the Israelites, then demands that all Israelite baby boys be killed at birth. Baby Moses’ mother sets him afloat in a basket on the Nile where he is saved by Pharaoh’s daughter. As an adult, Moses kills an Egyptian taskmaster who was beating an Israelite slave, flees to Midian and marries Zipporah — but after encountering God at a burning bush he returns to Egypt to free the Israelites from slavery. Pharaoh refuses to the let the Israelites go and God promises to punish him.


Parashat Shemot: The Essential Name of God

Moses’ inquiry about God’s name reveals the essential quality of how God manifests in the world.

More on this Torah Portion

Stop Making Excuses and Step Up to the Plate

Moses' excuses at the Burning Bush parallel three great human fears.

Believing the Exodus Story

Why is it that the most unbelievable of Jewish stories is that which is most believed in?

Becoming A Leader

Before God calls on Moses to lead the Israelites out of slavery, Moses develops his leadership skills and his ability to see beyond narrow struggles and his role as liberator.

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.

How Two Midwives Tricked Pharaoh

Shifra and Puah's defiance of Pharaoh's decree and allegiance to God set the stage for the liberation of the Israelites.

These Are The Names: Where Is Yours?

By listing the names of Jacob's family members who went into Egypt the Torah reminds us of the number of people who affect our lives.

Leadership and Trust

Some leaders make promises, but do they follow through?

A Burning Within

We must find the causes that make us most passionate--and work for change.

The Book of Names

Our names are our essence.

Symbolic Names

The name Gershom, and the word for Hebrew, Ivri, carry a message about what it means to be Jewish.

Seeing The Broader Picture

The differences between the midwives' encounter with Pharaoh and the officers' and taskmasters' encounter teach us to appreciate the context of biblical narratives.

Pharaoh Didn’t Know Joseph

The reference to forgetting Joseph raises questions about how oppression is linked to a group's commitment to the larger society.

The Life Of The Oppressed

The antidote to the terror of living in a dangerous world is to participate in the liberation of others.

Political And Religious Power

The debate over how Moses killed the Egyptian has implications for the Jewish response to political and military power.

The Bumpy Road To Redemption

The complicated beginnings of the Exodus from Egypt establish the expectation that redemption is often not a smooth process.

Parashat Shemot: Growing into New Roles

Like the characters in this Torah portion, we can fill the vacant roles left by our loss and grow into new ones.

When Should Patience Trump Passion?

Like Moses, we need to transform our natural impulses into something higher.

Women As Heroes

When to have the courage to defy.

Haftarah for Shemot

Promises of hope, threats of destruction.

Parashat Shemot Quiz

Test your knowledge of this Torah portion.

The Torah’s Accessibility

The Torah was given early on--available to anyone who seeks it.