Rachael’s Thoughts on Parshat Shemot

This week in our reading, parshat Shemot, we meet Moses, the person we know most about in Torah.  While one book of the Torah tells us of creation and our ancestors, the other four books happen during Moses’ lifetime.  We honour our ancestors for giving us the foundation of our Judaism, but it is Moses who teaches us the structure of Judaism, it is he who delivers the Torah and all that we need to function and flourish within covenant.  We refer to Moses as Moshe Rabeinu, the term used for a Master with disciples —we acknowledge we are all his disciples.  It speaks to the challenge we face today as we see an important message conveyed to us sitting quietly in the meaning of the name ‘Moses’.

In the narrative, Pharaoh’s daughter takes Moses out of the Nile and names him.  She explains that she named him ‘Moses’ because “I drew him from the water”.  Pharaoh’s daughter has blessed the baby with a name that reflects her action.  In other words, the name ‘Moses’ is grammatically connected to the person doing the action, not the person receiving it.  He is not the one drawn from the water, he is the one who pulls someone else from the water.  The blessing and the message that speaks to us today is in the choice to be active when one is positioned to be passive.

As we enter the winter months, we are again facing health cautions and medical warnings.  For some of us it’s becoming an easy transition, as we adjusted ourselves to it months ago.  For others, it is an unwelcome restriction that is forcing its way back into our lives.  We could easily perceive it as a call to be passive and ‘wait things out’.  But it is actually a call to be active, as we change our means of maintaining connections.   Pharaoh’s daughter blessed Moses with an understanding that we keep our eyes on others, and we draw them towards us to safety and to strength.

Most of everything has now returned to online, at a time when we crave each other and could be tired of looking at our screens.  I encourage everyone to keep their cameras on when we gather virtually, as that small act moves us from passive participation to active interaction.   It is important to remember to draw others you know to likewise meet online.  Let them know what you’re doing and send them links to join you.  

As we keep our eyes on each other, and draw one another out of moments of feeling isolated, to gather together online, we are reminded of the ongoing lessons we learn from Moshe Rabeinu, our Master Teacher.

I’d like to wish everyone a sweet and peaceful Shabbat —our Jewish time to regroup, rest, and reinvigorate.

Shabbat shalom,