We have spent the past few weeks following the conversation between God and Moses as to how to build the Tabernacle, its vessels, and the priestly clothing. This week, the Torah tells us that Moses appointed Betzalel to lead the building project. Throughout the parshah, as the Torah describes the actual construction of the Tabernacle, it continually states, “such and such was done as God commanded Moses.” Why, while discussing the topic of the Tabernacle, does the Torah stress that everything was done, “as God commanded Moses,” more than any other part of the Torah? Continue reading Parshat Pekudei – Our Moral Compass
We find ourselves at the climax of the past number of parshiyot. Over the past few weeks, we read about God’s promise to give the Jewish people the Land of Canaan, the rivalry between Joseph and his brothers that brought the entire family to Egypt, and the ensuing slavery that the Jews endured under Pharaoh’s cruel rule. We are holding at the turning point in the story. The background narrative of the Jewish heroes, Moses and Aaron, has been developed. The highpoint of the redemption is about to begin. But wait! The Torah interrupts the story just as the narrative is reaching its climax with seemingly mundane, unrelated details: the genealogy of Moses and Aaron. Why interrupt the storyline at its most suspenseful moment with this unnecessary information? Continue reading Parshat Va’eira – Striving for Greatness
Pharaoh’s astrologers informed him that a boy would be born who would redeem the Jewish people from Egyptian slavery. He therefore enacted a new decree that all male newborns would be drowned in the Nile River. At this point in the story, the Torah tells us that ‘A man went from the house of Levi and married a daughter of Levi.’ This man was Amram. The ‘daughter of Levi’ was Jochebed.
The Talmud details the interesting background to this marriage. Amram and Jochebed were previously married. In fact, they already had two children, Miriam and Aaron. When Pharaoh legislated this new barbaric decree of killing every newborn male child, Amram decided that it was not worthwhile to continue having children; after all, if a boy would be born, Pharaoh’s henchmen would find and kill the baby. He therefore divorced his wife. As Amram was the leader of the Jewish people at the time, all the rest of the Jews followed suit and divorced their wives. Miriam, who at the time was a mere six years old, understood the situation and recognized the obvious outcome of her father’s decision: no more Jewish children. Disagreeing with her father, she presented him with the following three arguments as to why he should stay married:
- Pharaoh’s decree affected only the males, but Amram’s decision affected the girls as well.
- Pharaoh’s decree caused the boys to lose out on Olam Hazeh, the physical world, but by preventing their birth, Amram was causing them to also lose out on Olam Habah, the world to come.
- Pharaoh was a king of flesh and blood whose decree might not even last, while Amram was ensuring that the decree would endure.