Weekly D'rash and Parsha Shemot


The Weekly D'rash and the Scriptures that we will be reading this Shabbat for Shemot from Rabbi Howard Silverman:

TORAH ~ Exodus 1:1-6:1

HAFTARAH ~ Isaiah 27:6-28:13, 29:22-23 BRIT CHADASHA ~ Hebrews 11:17-29

Toward the end of his life, Moses consecrated Joshua and commissioned him to the role of leader of Israel. He charged Joshua with the words “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you” (Deut 31:6). This is a powerful statement. Not only are the words powerful and true, but Moses is speaking from his own experience.


This week our Torah portion describes the birth and calling of Moses. Immediately after the story of his birth and young life, we read about the great courage of Moses (Exo 2:11–5:23) when he saves a Hebrew slave from the hands of an Egyptian taskmaster. When he realizes that this act became known, he escapes to Midian. It is here that Moses first encounters God. Moses learns that the God of Israel has chosen him to lead the Jewish people out of Egypt. He has no previous experience with God, and according to the text has no idea how he was going to do this great work to which God had called him. Moses does not see himself as a redeemer, nor really know or understand the power or attributes of God. Therefore he asks God what he shall say when the people ask him who this God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob really is. Moses is learning on the job that God is more powerful than Pharaoh, and indeed the one and only sovereign of the world.


It took a tremendous amount of courage for Moses to return to Egypt. He was hated by Pharaoh and mistrusted by his people. It took great courage for Moses to face his fears when he approached Pharaoh and said, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Let My people go that they may celebrate a feast to Me in the wilderness’” (Exo 5:1). We know from chapter five that things do not go well. The Hebrew slaves are angry with Moses, and Pharaoh will not relent. God was equipping Moses and training him for his monumental task of leading the people out of Egypt and through the wilderness. God listens to Moses and equips and encourages him. The rest of the Torah is a biography of the life of Moses. In fact, the Torah ends when Moses dies. What we see in Moses is a man of faithfulness, vision, and perseverance. In the face of constant opposition and criticism, he obeyed God and was loyal to the task. What a role model for us!


We all face fears in life. Courage is a tremendous value that enables us to walk before the Lord in faithfulness and trust. For some people, courage may come more naturally than for others. But as Messiah followers our courage is rooted in the presence and promises of God. In Messiah Yeshua, we are empowered and equipped for the task! In the New Covenant Scriptures' Book of Hebrews chapter 11, we read about the courage of faithful people who continued the journey even though they did not see the promises of God come to their fulfillment. Some of them were martyred and others went to their graves having lived full lives but still waiting for the day of promise. These verses were written to encourage us to keep moving forward—always having our eyes fixed on Yeshua. Be strong and courageous! Yeshua is with you always, even to the end of the age!


Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Howard


Photo by Diogo Nunes on Unsplash


TORAH READING: EXODUS 1:1 – 6:1

1:1 Now these are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob; they came each one with his household:

2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah;

3 Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin;

4 Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher.

5 All the persons who came from the loins of Jacob were seventy in number, but Joseph was already in Egypt.

6 Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation.

7 But the sons of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly, and multiplied, and became exceedingly mighty, so that the land was filled with them.

8 Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.

9 He said to his people, "Behold, the people of the sons of Israel are more and mightier than we.

10 "Come, let us deal wisely with them, or else they will multiply and in the event of war, they will also join themselves to those who hate us, and fight against us and depart from the land."

11 So they appointed taskmasters over them to afflict them with hard labor. And they built for Pharaoh storage cities, Pithom and Raamses.

12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread out, so that they were in dread of the sons of Israel.

13 The Egyptians compelled the sons of Israel to labor rigorously;

14 and they made their lives bitter with hard labor in mortar and bricks and at all kinds of labor in the field, all their labors which they rigorously imposed on them.

15 Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other was named Puah;

16 and he said, "When you are helping the Hebrew women to give birth and see them upon the birthstool, if it is a son, then you shall put him to death; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live."

17 But the midwives feared G-d, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live.

18 So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, "Why have you done this thing, and let the boys live?"

19 The midwives said to Pharaoh, "Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife can get to them."

20 So G-d was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied, and became very mighty.

21 Because the midwives feared G-d, He established households for them.

22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, "Every son who is born you are to cast into the Nile, and every daughter you are to keep alive."


2:1 Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a daughter of Levi.

2 The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was beautiful, she hid him for three months.

3 But when she could hide him no longer, she got him a wicker basket and covered it over with tar and pitch. Then she put the child into it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile.

4 His sister stood at a distance to find out what would happen to him.

5 The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the Nile, with her maidens walking alongside the Nile; and she saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid, and she brought it to her.

6 When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the boy was crying. And she had pity on him and said, "This is one of the Hebrews' children."

7 Then his sister said to Pharaoh's daughter, "Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women that she may nurse the child for you?"

8 Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Go ahead." So the girl went and called the child's mother.

9 Then Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Take this child away and nurse him for me and I will give you your wages." So the woman took the child and nursed him.

10 The child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter and he became her son. And she named him Moses, and said, "Because I drew him out of the water."

11 Now it came about in those days, when Moses had grown up, that he went out to his brethren and looked on their hard labors; and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren.

12 So he looked this way and that, and when he saw there was no one around, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

13 He went out the next day, and behold, two Hebrews were fighting with each other; and he said to the offender, "Why are you striking your companion?"

14 But he said, "Who made you a prince or a judge over us? Are you intending to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?" Then Moses was afraid and said, "Surely the matter has become known."

15 When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he tried to kill Moses. But Moses fled from the presence of Pharaoh and settled in the land of Midian, and he sat down by a well.

16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters; and they came to draw water and filled the troughs to water their father's flock.

17 Then the shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and helped them and watered their flock.

18 When they came to Reuel their father, he said, "Why have you come back so soon today?"

19 So they said, "An Egyptian delivered us from the hand of the shepherds, and what is more, he even drew the water for us and watered the flock."

20 He said to his daughters, "Where is he then? Why is it that you have left the man behind? Invite him to have something to eat."

21 Moses was willing to dwell with the man, and he gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses.

22 Then she gave birth to a son, and he named him Gershom, for he said, "I have been a sojourner in a foreign land."

23 Now it came about in the course of those many days that the king of Egypt died. And the sons of Israel sighed because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry for help because of their bondage rose up to G-d.

24 So G-d heard their groaning; and G-d remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

25 G-d saw the sons of Israel, and G-d took notice of them.


3:1 Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of G-d.

2 The angel of the L-RD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed.

3 So Moses said, "I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up."

4 When the L-RD saw that he turned aside to look, G-d called to him from the midst of the bush and said, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am."

5 Then He said, "Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground."

6 He said also, "I am the G-d of your father, the G-d of Abraham, the G-d of Isaac, and the G-d of Jacob." Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at G-d.

7 The L-RD said, "I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings.

8 "So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.

9 "Now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them.

10 "Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt."

11 But Moses said to G-d, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?"

12 And He said, "Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship G-d at this mountain."