Sh’mot 2016 Jan 2 / 21 Tevet, 5776

In his book The Road to Redemption, a commentary on the Book of Exodus or Sh’mot, which we begin reading this Shabbat, Burton Visotzky writes that while “Genesis is a book of the individual within a family, Exodus is a book of tribes within a nation.” (p. 36) He notes that the very first verses of parashat Sh’mot mark this transition as verses 1-6 review the names of the family of Jacob that came to Egypt and then the text continues: “…the Israelites were fertile and prolific….” (Ex. 1:7), signaling that this book will be about the Israelites and their story as a nation. Vistozky also points out that the verb rendered “prolific” above is actually “vayishr’tzu,” which actually means “they swarmed.” It is the same verb used to describe the creepy, crawly animals and insects that God created to swarm on the earth. In other words, we are being let in on the fact that the Israelites are considered “vermin” in Egypt. We will explore these verses of Exodus and the early stages of our people’s resulting oppression and proposed genocide at this week’s Saturday morning Parashat Hashavuah (Weekly Torah Portion) study at 9:30am. Join us!

Exodus 1:1−6:1