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Sh’mot, Exodus 1:1-6:1
Lucy H. F. DinnerThis year, I have the pleasure of studying the Book of Exodus together with the lay-led Hebrew Bible study group at Temple Beth Or in Raleigh, North Carolina, where I serve as senior rabbi. This d’var Torah draws on comments and realizations from members of the study group including Cindy, Ed, Maxine C., Maxine S., Rachel, and Rob.Have you ever done a double take at the breakfast table, not believing how fast your children have grown overnight? Just like that they sprout up. At my youngest son’s bar mitzvah we had bought a suit for him a month before the big day, only to have to take it back to the tailor three days before the service because he had already outgrown the pants legs. Growing up happens at a miniscule pace, and then, when you least expect it those toddlers are driving away in your car.This week, our study group considered some aspects of Moses’s personality, growth, and development. In Parashat Sh’mot, Moses goes from birth to young adulthood, from the adoration of the posse of Egyptian and Hebrew women who raise him to judge and arbiter. One day he’s being weaned, the next he’s searching for his identity. What did Moses know of his bifurcated families? Did he see himself as a prince of Egypt or a misplaced Hebrew amongst his kin? As Moses grows up, the parashah reveals a young man coming to terms with his character and morality, depicted not as God’s greatest prophet, but as a youngster pulled by the yearnings that surge through maturation.The portion reveals some of the hidden layers of Moses’s young adulthood:“When Moses had grown up, he went out to his kinsfolk and witnessed their labors. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his kinsmen. He turned this way and that and, seeing no one about, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand” (Exodus 2:11?12).Continue reading.
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