Tag Archives: Passover

Jews of the Week: Miriam and Aaron

Holy Siblings

The Exodus

When it comes to Passover, most of the attention is placed on Moses (realizing this, the Jewish Sages who composed the Passover Haggada omitted any mention of Moshe!) Few give credit to Moses’ elder siblings (and prophets) Aaron and Miriam. It was the prophecy of the eldest Miriam that inspired the Israelites in Egypt to start procreating again, after they had previously decided not to bring any more children into such a cruel existence. That stimulus gave birth to Moses. It was Miriam who ensured the basket stayed afloat in the Nile, and who made sure Moses received a Jewish wet nurse (his mother!) even though he grew up in Pharaoh’s palace. Later, we are told that Miriam had a mystical well that supplied the Israelites with all their water needs during their travels through the wilderness. The Talmud explains Miriam was nicknamed Azuva (“left behind”) since she was physically unappealing and had a hard time finding a husband. However, a great man named Caleb married her for her spiritual holiness. Miraculously, she transformed into a very beautiful woman, and was thus renamed Efrat (which means “beauty”). This marriage gave birth to the ancestor of King David (and therefore Mashiach)!

Meanwhile, Aaron was the leader of the Jews in Egypt. Because Moses had a speech impediment, Aaron was the official mouthpiece and spokesperson of God. He also carried out the first three of the 10 plagues that struck the Egyptians. For his peace-loving and self-sacrificing ways, Aaron was later granted the high priesthood, and all his descendants became Cohanim. Amazingly, scientists have discovered a gene on the Y-chromosome that is shared by cohanim around the world, whether Ashkenazi, Sephardic or other. The gene traces back 3300 years, which is precisely the time of the Exodus!

 

Words of the Week

There are none so hopelessly enslaved as those who believe they are free.
– Von Goethe

Jew of the Week: Moshe Rabbeinu

The Greatest Prophet

“Moses Leads the Jews out of Egypt”, by Stephen Howard

Moshe “Moses” ben Amram (c. 1393-1273 BCE) The Pharaoh’s astrologers told him that the “Saviour of the Hebrews” will be born in the month of Adar. Pharaoh decreed all male newborns be drowned in the Nile river. Yocheved was able to hide little Tuviah for 3 months until placing him in a basket on the river. The Pharaoh’s daughter found the floating baby and named him Moshe – meaning “draw” for she drew him from the river. He would later “draw” the Jews out of Egypt. Ironically, the baby that Pharaoh was trying to kill was raised in his own palace! More ironic still, just as Pharaoh drowned the children, his men were ultimately drowned in the Red Sea. Moses was the greatest prophet that ever lived, as well as the humblest man to walk the Earth. He wrote the Torah, as dictated by God, and brought down the 613 commandments of Judaism. It is thus no surprise that the numerical value of “Moshe Rabbeinu” (משה רבינו) in gematria is 613. This coming Monday night begins the 3323rd Passover since Moses led us out of Egypt.

Words of the Week

In the Haggadah we read, “The Torah speaks of four sons: One is wise, one is wicked, one is simple and one does not know how to ask.” In our generation, however, we also have a “fifth son” – the Jewish child who isn’t even at the seder! Our task is to go seek out these sons and daughters and bring them to the Passover table.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe, in a public letter issued shortly before Passover of 1957