Redemptive Light


parashas Shemot 5781

The light of redemption was first manifest in the birth of Moses. “And the woman conceived, and bore a son; and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months” (Exodus 2:2, JPS 1917 Tanach). “When he was born the whole house became filled with light” (Rashi, Sotah 12a; The midrash explains that the infant Moses was hidden away for three months to escape detection by those who meant to harm him. When he could no longer remain hidden, he was placed in a basket smeared with pitch, and set in the Nile River.

Incidentally, the Hebrew word translated as basket, is teivah, the same word used for the ark that provided refuge for Noah and his family. Whereas Noah was G-d’s agent, serving as the redemptive catalyst for the preservation of mankind, Moses was the redeemer of the Children of Israel, leading them to freedom from the bondage of their enslavement in Egypt.

Where did the path to freedom begin for B’nei Yisrael? A glimmer of light shone upon the darkest days of captivity when “the people believed; and when they heard that the L-RD had remembered the children of Israel, and that He had seen their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped” (Exodus 4:31, JPS 1917 Tanach). Despite their harsh circumstances, they found hope in the message of the redeemer, who conferred to them that G-d had surely remembered them – yifkod pekodti – the same words that had been passed along the generations, since the time when Joseph told his brothers that G-d would surely remember them and bring them out of Egypt into the Promised Land (see Genesis 50:25).

When B’nei Yisrael walked three days into the wilderness after leaving Mitzraim (Egypt), they were faced with the prospect of an immediate encounter with Pharaoh’s army, whose charioteers had caught up to the Children of Israel, encamped at the Sea of Reeds. The light of the Shechinah showed them the way. There was no leeway for hesitation, when a path was provided through the waters of the sea for B’nei Yisrael. They were granted passage along a path upon the seabed, swept dry by an Eastern wind. Likewise, there should be no hesitation in our efforts when we are shown a way to escape from aveiros (sins). The yetzer harah (evil inclination) may pursue us; however, the L-RD will show us the way to freedom.

Published by Tzvi Fievel

I am Jewish, with an inclination towards chassidic teachings, customs, and prayer. My background as a Conservative Jew, served as a foundation for my later transition to becoming a ba'al teshuvah.

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