Parashat Shemot / פרשת שמות

Crop of Israel in Egypt by Edward Poynter


Parashat Shemot is the 13th weekly reading in the annual Torah reading cycle, and the first reading of Shemot (“Exodus”). Shemot (שְׁמוֹת) is Hebrew for Names and is the second word of the parashah, which begins with the names of the sons of Yisrael (Israel) who came to Mitzrayim (Egypt) with Ya’akov (Jacob).

The parashah continues with a new generation, and how the fear of a new king of Mitzrayim who does not know Yosef (Joseph) leads to the Egyptians ruthlessly setting taskmasters over Bnei Yisrael (the Children of Yisrael), causing us to work as slaves. The parashah records the cities we built, as well as the additional measures Pharaoh took to kill our infant males.

Parashat Shemot continues with the birth of Moshe (Moses), to whom he is born, how he is saved from Pharaoh’s decree against our infant males, and how he gets his name. The parashah continues with an encounter Moshe has with his people when he is grown, leading to him fleeing for his life from Pharaoh to the land of Midyan (Midian). There he is welcomed and settles, taking a wife who bears him a son.

The parashah continues after the death of the king of Egypt with HaShem’s response to His people’s cry for help. His response is to send Moshe to Pharaoh to bring His people out of Mitzrayim. The parashah records in detail Moshe’s calling by G-d, HaShem’s instructions to Moshe pertaining to the work ahead, Moshe’s hesitance, and HaShem’s encouragement.

After Moshe’s father-in-law permits him to visit his brothers in Mitzrayim, the parashah records additional information Moshe receives from HaShem about His plan for the salvation of Bnei Yisrael. The parashah further records who Moshe took with him on his journey, how they traveled, how HaShem nearly put Moshe to death at a lodging place along the way, why He changed His mind, and how HaShem sent Moshe’s brother Aharon (Aaron) to meet him in the wilderness.

Parashat Shemot concludes with Moshe and Aharon’s presentation of the good news of HaShem’s salvation to the Elders of Bnei Yisrael and the word of HaShem to Pharaoh that he must let His people go. The parashah records their replies and the events that immediately follow, the stage being set for HaShem to show forth His power.

Torah Portion: Exodus 1:1 – 6:1

1st Aliyah: Exodus 1:1-17 (17 verses)
2nd Aliyah: Exodus 1:18-2:10 (15 verses)
3rd Aliyah: Exodus 2:11-25 (15 verses)
4th Aliyah: Exodus 3:1-15 (15 verses)
5th Aliyah: Exodus 3:16-4:17 (24 verses)
6th Aliyah: Exodus 4:18-31 (14 verses)
7th Aliyah: Exodus 5:1-6:1 (24 verses)
MaftirExodus 5:22-6:1 (3 verses)

Reading from the Nevi’im (Prophets):

Traditional Ashkenazi Haftarah:
Isaiah 27:6 – 28:13 & 29:22 – 29:23
Traditional Sephardic Haftarah:
Jeremiah 1:1 – 2:3

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Messiah in the Parashah

The Memra of HaShem built a royal house for the midwives; the house of the high priesthood.

The Memra of HaShem sent forth a burning sore and inflammation of the flesh on Mitzrayim.

Sought for Death at His Birth

Saved by the Daughter of Mitzrayim

Drawn from the Waters

HaShem spoke through His Memra to deliver Bnei Yisrael from the oppression.

Delivers his people from those who are afflicting them.

Calls his brothers to repent and love one another.

Despised and rejected by his brothers.

Saves the children of Avraham among the nations and waters their flocks.

By the Memra of HaShem Bnei Yisrael was delivered from the hand of the Mitzrim.

The Memra of HaShem was the help of Moshe.

Sent by HaShem to deliver his people from slavery.

HaShem strikes Mitzrayim with plagues through him.

Instructed by HaShem in what to say and to do that his people might believe.

Lowly in heart

Called them gods to whom the Word of G-d came.

The Memra of HaShem was with the mouth of Moshe, teaching him what to say.

Three days journey into the wilderness.

Seemed at first to have laboured in vain.

By the Memra of HaShem the king of Mitzrayim was punished with evil plagues.

Commandments in the Parashah

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