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   by Jacob Solomon

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Moses grew up went amongst his people and observed their burdens… (2:11)

The early life of Moses in his own right opens with three stories where he firmly and effectively applies and imposes the principles of social justice.

First, Moses kills the Egyptian he catches in the act of savagely beating a fellow Hebrew. Next day, he separates two of his own people in conflict. Pharaoh's attentions to Moses' pro-activity forced him to flee to Midyan in a hurry, only to become successfully involved in a third conflict - insisting that the shepherds do not push in front of the daughters of Jethro, who had been in line for the local water supply before them.

These opening incidents to Moses' career show a progression. In the first, he saves an Israelite from his captor - the Egyptian. In the second, he another Israelite from his oppressor - this time a fellow Israelite. Yet in the third he saves a group of non-Israelites - other people - from their oppressors.

This may be seen as symbolic of the ideal destiny of the Israelite nation in the past, present, and future.

In the past, we Jews have campaigned for those persecuted by non-Jewish captors - such as those in then Soviet Union. Today, the percentage of Jewish people suffering active persecution amongst other nations has dropped to an all time low, and the Jews have moved to the second stage. That is where many show widespread concern at incidents of non-ethical and at times unjust and exploitative conduct between Jew and Jew. This also includes discrimination based on ethnic Jewish background and degree of Torah observance. Only when a much greater degree of social justice is firmly established among the Jewish people is it really ready to preach similar things to Mankind through its eternal sources and exemplary conduct in 'being a light to the nations' in leading to them to act likewise…

Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.

Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site:

Also by Jacob Solomon:
From the Prophets on the Haftara

Test Yourself - Questions and Answers


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