Parashat Shemot 5783

January 10, 2023

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah A D’var Torah for Parashat Shemot By Rabbi Katy Allen (’05) I’m glad I wasn’t an Egyptian back then. I’m glad I wasn’t there to be ordered by Pharaoh to throw newborn babies into the river. (Exodus 1:22) Although, I’ve heard that I might not necessarily have had to drown any babies myself ‒ I might, instead, have had to force my neighbors, the Israelites, to drown their own babies (Or HaHaim). I’m glad I didn’t have to do that either. It’s also possible, the whispers through the generations tell me ‒ and I shudder in response ‒ that if I myself had given birth the day that Moses was born, I might have had to kill my own baby, Egyptian though he would have been. (Sotah 12a) Of all the terrible things our sacred tradition tells us that Pharaoh did, I find that telling his...

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Parashat Shemot 5782

December 24, 2021

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D‘var Torah Leaving the Palace A D’var Torah for Parashat Shemot By Rabbi Rob Scheinberg This story sounds familiar, I thought. Sitting in a college religion course, my professor began to describe the early life of a most significant religious leader in world history, someone who was effectively the founder of one of the world’s major religions. The story began with this future religious leader growing up in a palace and living a life of spectacular material comforts. As a member of the king’s family, he has plenty of whatever he wants, and he is unaware of any suffering or poverty that exists outside the palace’s walls. In fact, the king does his best to insulate him from witnessing any pain, injustice or suffering. One day, this future religious leader ventures out of the palace walls, and what he sees there challenges him deeply and changes him forever....

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Parashat Shemot – 5781

January 8, 2021

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah A D’var Torah for Parashat Shemot By Rabbi Doug Alpert (’12) “These are the names of the sons of Israel who came into Egypt with Jacob…. he total number of persons that were of Jacob’s issue came to seventy, Joseph being already in Egypt.” (Exodus 1:1, 5)  This beginning to the Book of Shemot – of Names  – reflects strongly on how we see K’lal Yisrael, our sense of how we form community.  Rashi and Ramban both say that by enumerating their names it illustrates how dear they each are to G-d as they are compared to the stars. G-d brings out and brings in by name and by number. “Lift high your eyes and see: Who created these? ho sends out their host by count, who calls them each by name…” (Isaiah 40:26) I have always found great resonance in the idea that...

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Parashat Shemot 5780

January 16, 2020

Antisemitism Then and Now A D’var Torah for Parashat Shemot By Rabbi Irwin Huberman (’10) There is a gnawing question that has plagued many commentators, as we witness in this week’s Torah portion, what could be referred to as the first recorded case of antisemitism: How did the Jewish people fall from grace to disgrace in such a relatively short period of time? More specifically, what exactly happened during the two hundred years since the Israelites were welcomed into Egypt with open arms – to the point when a new Pharaoh arose and enacted policies that targeted the descendants of Joseph? As last week’s Parashah ended, all appeared to be well between the Israelites and the Egyptians. The Torah tells us that officials from the highest levels of the Egyptian government accompanied Joseph as he travelled to Canaan to bury his father, Jacob. This included, “…all the officials of Pharaoh, the...

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Parashat Shemot 5779

December 27, 2018

A D’var Torah for Parashat Shemot By Rabbi Bruce Alpert (’11) Living up to its own name, our Torah portion, Shemot – Names – has a lot of them. Some of them are known to us. Some are new. And some aren’t given at all. Among the new names are those of Shiphrah and Puah – the two midwives whom Pharaoh orders to kill all the male Israelite newborns. And therein lies a curiosity. We know the names of the servants. We don’t know the name of the king they serve. Indeed, his only identifying characteristic seems to be that he “did not know Joseph.” (Exodus 1:8). The Rashi on this verse directs us to a dispute in the Talmud between Rav and Shmuel as to this Pharaoh’s identity (Sotah 11a). One insists that he really is a new leader, while the other claims it was the same Pharaoh as in Joseph’s time who issued new decrees following the...

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