Parshat Shemot Sweets and Treats
In this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Shemot, the Jewish people multiply in Egypt. Pharaoh is afraid of the growing numbers so he enslaves the Jewish people, forcing them to build storage cities for him. He also instructs the Jewish midwives, Shifrah and Puah, to kill all baby boys when they are born. When they refuse to do this terrible task, Pharaoh decrees that all Jewish baby boys be thrown into the Nile. Yocheved and Amram have a baby boy and are able to hide him for three months until Yocheved puts him into the river in a floating basket while his sister Miriam watches from the reeds. When Pharaoh’s daughter hears the baby’s cries, she brings him from the water and names him Moshe because she drew him from the water and raises him as her own son.
When Moshe grows up, he ventures out of the palace and see an Egyptian man beating a Jew; he quickly kills the Egyptian and hides him in the sand. The next day he see two Jewish people fighting – when he rebukes them, they reveal that they know that he killed the Egyptian the day before, forcing Moshe to run from Egypt to Midyan. Once he gets to Midyan, he comes to a well where he rescues the daughter of Yitro. He marries Tziporah, Yitro’s daughter, and becomes a shepherd of his father-in-law’s sheep. Moshe and Tziporah have a son and name him Gershom. Meanwhile, in Egypt, the Jews cry out because of their terrible suffering and Hashem hears their cries and remembers the promise to set them free.
One day, when Moshe was taking Yisro’s flock to graze in the wilderness, he sees a burning bush at the bottom of Mt. Sinai that was not consumed. In it, Hashem appears to Moshe and tells him to go to Pharaoh to free the Jewish people from slavery. Moshe worries that because his speech is impaired, he will not make a good spokesman so Aharon, his brother, is appointed to this role. Hashem tells Moshe to assemble the Jewish elders and tell them he has come to take them from Egypt. He also tells him that Pharaoh will refuse to release the Jews at first and will be punished with a strong arm, and the Jewish people will become wealthy in the process. He teaches him three miracles to perform to prove he is truly coming from G-d – his staff becomes a snake and then a staff again, his arm gets leprous and then healed and the water in the Nile turns to blood when Moshe puts it on dry land.
Moshe brings his family, including his wife Tziporah, son Gershom and newborn son on the journey to Egypt. When he reaches an inn, an angel in the form of a snake encircles Moshe threatening to kill him. Tziporah realizes that the reason Moshe’s life is in danger is because he has not yet circumcised his newborn baby (for fear that it would be dangerous right before traveling, although he was the right age) and she performs the circumcision, saving Moshe’s life. When they arrive in Egypt, Moshe and Aharon do all that Hashem commanded them to do. Pharaoh refuses the request to allow the Jews to go into the desert to serve Hashem and makes their work even harder. They cry out once again and Moshe asks Hashem why He has commanded him to make the lives of the Jewish people even more difficult. Hashem promises that their redemption will come soon.
There are many symbols in this week’s parsha! Lego brick candies symbolize the task of the Jews as slaves to build the storage cities of Egypt. Blue pacifier candies represent the decree to kill all baby boys and the hiding of Moshe (keeping him from crying) for three months after his birth. They can also symbolize the birth of Moshe and his sons in this week’s parsha. Cry babies represent Moshe’s cries that Pharaoh’s daughter hears when she is bathing in the Nile, which prompts her to raise him as her son, as well as the cries of the Jewish people that Hashem heard to bring about the redemption. Blue jelly beans symbolize the important role water plays in this week’s parsha – the Nile River where the Jewish babies where thrown, where Moshe was placed in a basket and subsequently drawn from (which is the meaning of his name), the well where Moshe meets the daughters of Yitro, among them his wife Tziporah, and the water that turns to blood as one of Hashem’s signs for Moshe. Atomic Fire Balls symbolize the burning bush that was not consumed (good luck trying to bite into those candies to consume them!). Candy lips represent Moshe’s impaired speech that he is concerned about, leading to the appointing of Aharon as his spokesman. Candy snakes represent the staff of Moshe that turns into a snake and back into a staff as one of the signs that Hashem teaches him. They could also represent the snake that surrounded Moshe threatening to kill him until his baby was circumcised. White jelly candies with little candy balls could represent the sheep of Yisro that Moshe shepherded leading him to the burning bush, as well as Moshe’s arm that turned leprous and then healthy again as one of the signs. Last but not least, Twizzlers represent the whips used by the Egyptians on the Jewish slaves as well as the snake surrounding Moshe at the inn.
Wow, there are so many different choices this week! Have other ideas? Please share them in the comments section below!