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Parshat Shemot

January 17, 2020

In this week’s Torah Portion, Parshat Shemot, the children of Israel are beginning to multiply heavily in Egypt. The Pharaoh feels threatened and orders the Hebrew midwives, Shifrah and Puah, to kill all male babies at birth. They refuse to comply, so Pharaoh orders the babies to be cast into the Nile River. A baby boy is born to Yocheved and her husband, Amram, and they are forced to send him down the river in a basket, all while his sister, Miriam, is watching from afar. Later on, the baby is discovered by the Pharaoh’s daughter. She decides to name him Moses and raise him as her own.

When Moses grows up, he’s out taking a walk and witnesses the hardships of the people around him. He witnesses an Egyptian beating a Jew and spirals into a rage, killing the Egyptian. He is found out the next day and has to escape to Midian, where he marries a woman named Tzipporah and becomes a shepherd.

One day, G-d appears to Moses in a burning bush at the foot of Mt. Sinai and instructs him to approach the Pharaoh and demand, “Let my people go, so that they may serve me.” Moses appoints his brother, Aaron, as his spokesperson, and they gather the elders of Israel and tell them that their time for freedom has come. The people rally around Moses, but the Pharaoh refuses to let the people of Israel go, and in fact increases their suffering. Moses returns to G-d distraught, and asks “Why have You done evil to these people?”, and G-d promises that redemption is near.  

Just like Moses, we need to rally up the people around us and make a difference. We have a unique opportunity in this day and age to become activists and community organizers quicker than ever. If we see something happening that is wrong, we need to take the opportunity to right the wrongs. We need to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves, make our voices heard for those who have none. We need to act now, so that future injustices are prevented. In BBYO, we have initiatives such as “Stand Up!” that provide the opportunity to make a difference in our local communities. By doing things like volunteering, spreading the word about causes we care about, and marching for our beliefs, we are giving back to the communities that have given us so much, and helping to plant the seeds for a better tomorrow.  

Shabbat Shalom,

BBYO DC Council Shlichim, Dalia Ellen Trostinetzky and Ben Cohen

Read commentary on this week's Parsha from BBYO teens around the world.

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