Shmot (Exodus)The Hebrew title 'Shmot' meaning names, comes from the first verse: 'These are the names of the sons of Israel.' The English name Exodus derived from the Greek meaning departure (like the word Exit) refers to the main event described in the book: the departure of the Israelites from Egypt. In the book of Exodus, we move from stories of individuals and families to the story of the Israelite nation. In Exodus, the Hebrews become a nation. The book of Exodus tells of the Israelites' enslavement, and subsequent deliverance with the 10 plagues. Moses leads the people out of Egypt, crossing the Red Sea. They arrrive at Sinai, where they receive the 10 Commandments, and other rules. While Moses is on the mountain, the people build a Golden Calf. The remainder for numerous biblical laws. There are fifty chapters, divided into eleven parashiyot. The parashiyot of Shmot are: Shmot, Va'Era, Bo, Beshalach, Yitro, Mishpatim, Terumah, Tetzaveh, Ki Tisa, VaYakhel, and Pekudei.


VaEra: Only by remembering that we are just the servants in the palace, can we 'know' God.

On first approach, Moses has unsuccessfully confronted Pharaoh. Rather than heed God's instruction to let the slaves go, Pharaoh increases their workload and makes their situation even more difficult. Moses goes back to God, and is reassured that the Israelites will indeed be redeemed. The lineage of Moses and Aaron is given, and then they re-approach Pharaoh. When he will not listen, the battle of the plagues begins. However, Pharaoh will not be moved. After the sixth plague, when Pharaoh still fails to relent, God 'hardens' Pharaoh's heart, and then the final plagues upon Egypt commence.

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These summaries and introductions are used with permission of Kolel: The Adult Centre for Liberal Jewish Learning in Toronto, Canada. Kolel is a dynamic, pluralistic, egalitarian institution where men and women engage in Jewish learning which values both traditional and liberal interpretations. Kolel is a gateway into a richer expression of Judaism for each individual, wherever their journey of Jewish discovery may take them.

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