Parshat Shemot: What Emerges From Within

January 4, 2024
BBYO Weekly Parsha


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In this week's Parsha, Shemot, the Torah tells us that a new pharaoh has come to power and had forgotten the kindness of Josef. He was afraid that the nation of Israel would become  too mighty, so he decided to enslave them. Then, to limit the nation's strength and growth Pharaoh decreed that all Hebrew male newborns were to be cast into the Nile river. Among the slaves there was an Israelite woman who gave birth to a baby boy in Egypt. When he was born she put him into a basket in the Nile, hoping he would survive and evade Pharaoh's fate. She sent his sister to watch over him. This baby would become of the greatest known leaders in Jewish history, Moshe. However, buried in this story in true Torah fashion, is another less obvious but no less important leader without whom there would have been no Moshe to lead our people. This leader is Miriam, Moshe’s sister who emerges as a true leader, who watches over him in the Nile. Miriam demonstrates all necessary qualities of an ideal leader: Fearlessness, presence of mind and knowing when to take initiative. Miriam demonstrates all three traits when she approaches Pharaoh's daughter after she finds Moshe and suggests returning him to his mother to nurse. She continues to embody a leader even once the Jewish people are free from Pharaoh's rule with the nation wandering in the desert as a confidante and advisor to Moshe. However, Miriam was an inconspicuous leader who had a profound impact without needing a formal title unlike her brothers. 

Miriam should be an inspiration to all people, especially us BBG’s. One does not need a fancy title, to lead in one's community. You don't need to be a king, president  or CEO to make a difference in someone’s life. The great Lord Rabbi Johnathan Sacks explains in his book Lessons in Leadership, Miriam was a “leader because [she] had courage and conscience. [She] refused to be intimidated by power or defeated by circumstance” not because of a position she held (Sacks 65). Going on 80 years strong, BBG is such a powerful leadership organization because every single BBG in our order can and does make a difference even without a formal title or position. Leadership is not what is bestowed upon us, but is what emerges from within us! 

Shabbat Shalom!    

Lielle Berkowitz, Delta Region

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

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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