This week's parsha
Unless otherwise noted, "This week's Parsha" comprises articles taken from contributors to the Chabad.org website. We show the original author's name here, so that proper attribution is given. For the sake of brevity, footnotes cited in the original author's writings are omitted from this website. If you need to see the citations, please refer to the original articles on the Chabad.org website.
Thrown Into the River
Our Parshah tells of the harshness of the ancient Egyptian aggression against the Jewish people. First they were enslaved. Then there was a new, cruel decree: "any boy who is born should be thrown into the river" (Exodus 1:22).
The Sages explain that, like everything in the Torah, this command to throw the Jewish children into the Nile can be understood on several levels. One, of course, is the literal meaning of the physical threat. Another level of meaning has direct relevance to us today.
In Egyptian life the Nile River was seen, quite naturally, as the source of the great prosperity of the land. With reliable regularity the Nile would overflow its banks, providing water for the irrigation for the fertile Nile valley, the basis of the Egyptian economy. For this reason the river was worshiped as an idol.
Achievement vs. Caring
There have been many attempts to characterize the essential difference between men and women. Some have been absurd male chauvinist inventions; others have sounded more acceptable and meaningful. Are there any Jewish views?
Obviously, every single individual, male or female, is created with the primary goal to connect with G-d in the details of their daily lives, and through this to fulfill the purpose of their existence, which means also helping the world as a whole to fulfill its purpose.
In this task, each person has their own unique situation in life. Does one live now, or a thousand years ago? Is one in a time of war, or of peace? Is one poor or rich? A man or a woman? Artist or scientist? In each situation one has specific challenges, privileges and duties, as defined by the Torah. Wherever one is, and in whatever circumstances, there is a unique task which only you can achieve.
"Joseph, My Son, Still Lives"
This week's parshah relates how Joseph revealed his true identity to his brothers and was reunited with them.
It is stated in last week's parshah that when the brothers had first come to Egypt and had met Joseph, "Joseph recognized his brothers but they did not recognize him." Why did the brothers fail to recognize Joseph? The simple explanation is that many years had elapsed since they had last seen him. They had left him an unbearded young man, and now he was a fully-bearded adult.