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Torah Commentary Blog

“The Power to Affirm Humanity” – Parashat Sh’mot (January 6, 2018)
by Rabbi Sara Sapadin

IN HER ASTUTE ANALYSIS OF Parashat Sh’mot, Rabbi Bassin discusses the Israelites’ compulsion to see themselves as agents of their own downfall. Pharaoh would not have turned against them unwittingly, so the Israelites must have done something to prompt him. That something is identified in the verse: But the Israelites were “fertile, swarmed, and multiplied themselves greatly” (Exodus 1:7). One word, “swarmed,” is all it takes to characterize an entire people as a squirmy, slimy, buzzing pestilence.

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