Friday, January 8, 2010

Parshas Shemos

שם האחת שפרה ושם השנית פועה (1:15)*
שפרה זו יוכבד על שם שמשפרת את הולד. פועה זו מרים על שם שפועה ומדברת והוגה לולד (רש"י)
As part of his vicious plan to enslave and oppress the Jewish people, Pharaoh commanded the Jewish midwives – Yocheved and Miriam – to kill all male babies at birth. However, the Torah doesn’t refer to the midwives by name as Yocheved and Miriam, but rather as Shifra and Puah. Rashi explains that these names reflect the fact that they beautified (משפר) the Jewish babies and made calming noises (פועה) to soothe them.

Rav Shmuel Rozovsky points out that Yocheved and Miriam were both on incredibly high spiritual levels. The Gemora in Megillah (14a) counts Miriam as one of the seven female prophets. If so, why does the Torah refer to them by apparently mundane names based on their actions in taking care of the Jewish babies, which almost seems to degrade their lofty spiritual accomplishments?

Rav Shmuel answers that the Torah is coming to teach us precisely this fundamental lesson. For all of the spiritual greatness of Yocheved and Miriam, their most significant accomplishment was excelling as Jewish women. While the additional levels that they reached were indeed impressive and praiseworthy, the fulfillment of their basic, fundamental roles as Jewish mothers in properly raising the next generation of Jewish children is even greater. The Torah therefore specifically singled out and emphasized their success at fulfilling their unique and special roles as Jewish women.

*Taken from Parsha Potpourri by R’ Oizer Alport


Brochi said...

Thanks for the beautiful inspiration.

itsagift said...

Thanks! I love reading your parsha posts! I appreciate that you post them even on these short Fridays when it's so busy!!
Rav Mattisyahu Solomon says something very similar - I read it in With Hearts Full Of Love. He speaks about how great the job of a Jewish mother is, so much so that Yocheved and Miriam were described as women who cared about the babies (calmed them when they cried etc.) even though they had many other special qualities.

Related Posts with Thumbnails