Parashat Sh'mot

The Israelites are slaves to Pharaoh and God instructs Moses to liberate his people. Moses and Aaron approach Pharaoh, who refuses their request.

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The Burning Bush

Meanwhile Moses was tending sheep for his father-in-law, Yithro, near the mountain of God at Horeb. An angel of God appeared to him in the heart of a fire from the midst of a thorn bush. He saw and lo! the thorn bush was on fire but was not consumed. Moses looked at this great sight and went to see why the thorn bush did not burn up.

God called to Moses from the middle of the bush, "Moses, Moses."

"Here I am!" Moses said.

"Do not step here!" said God. "Take off your shoes for the place you are standing on is ground with a holy destiny. I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob."

And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look toward God.

God continued, "I have seen the affliction of My people in Egypt and have heard their cries as slaves. Now I have come down to rescue them from the hand of Egypt and bring them to a good and spacious land, a land that can flow with milk and honey. Now, therefore go, I will send you to Pharaoh and to bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt."

"Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?" asked Moses.

"I will be with you. If you will bring the people out from Egypt, you will become the servants of God upon this mountain."

"But," Moses said, "when I tell this to the sons of Israel, they will ask me 'What is God's name?'"

"I shall be that which I wish to be," replied God. "So say to them, 'God, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob has sent me to you.' This is My Name for the distant future and this is My memorial for every generation. Go and gather the elders of Israel and tell them. They will hearken to your voice. Then go to Pharaoh and say, 'God, the God of the Hebrews has met with us and now please let us go on a three day's journey into the wilderness to offer up a sacrifice to God, our God.’"

God Gives Moses The Signs

"Now," God continued, "I know that Pharaoh will not let you go, not even by the threat of a mighty hand. Then I will stretch out My hand and strike down Egypt with all My miracles. After that, he will send you away and you shall leave with gold and silver and clothing."

"But what if they do not believe that God appeared to me."

"What is that in your hand?" God said.

"A staff."

"Throw it on the ground."

Moses threw his staff on the ground and it turned into a serpent and Moses fled from it.

"Put out your hand," God said "and grasp it by its tail." Moses did and it turned back into a staff.

God then had Moses put his hand to his chest. When Moses took out his hand, it turned leprous. When he put it back into his chest, it turned to flesh again.

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Nancy Reuben Greenfield

Nancy Reuben Greenfield has written three adaptations of the Torah, including an
interactive family version at, and an engaging
Jewish immigrant novel, The Golden Medina, available on itunes and Amazon.