The FJMC Sefer Haftarah is at Agudas Achim, Alexandra, VA Next week it will be at Beth Emeth, Herndon, VA

This week's Unraveller is sponsored by The Beth David B'nai Israel Beth Am (Toronto) 7:00 am Talmud Study group in honour of their making a siyum for the b'chorim on Monday, April 18th, Erev Pesach
Yasher Koach to all who joined us!

This week's special portions in the FJMC Sefer Haftarah scroll, the travelling haftarah scroll which visits a different synagogue each week and contains all of the haftarot are sponsired by:
The haftarah for Shabbat HaGadol has been sponsored in honor of Norm Kurtz, FJMC Honorary President, by his 2007-2009 Leadership Team at FJMC Convention 2009
The haftarot for Pesach have been sponsored by:
Pesach, first day, Temple Israel, Great Neck, NY
Pesach, Shabbat Hol HaMooed, Temple Israel, White Plains, NY
The haftarot for the second day of Pesach, along with the last 2 days of Pesach are still available for sponsorship.
The Sefer Vayikrah of the Sefer Haftarah is available for sponsorship.

Did you know that the FJMC offers individual Haftarah parshiyot suitable for framing? Click here for the PDF

Use this link when shopping at
All purchases via our Amazon links provide critical support to the FJMC, at no additional cost to you!

For upcoming FJMC events
Visit the FJMC website

The online magazine for Jewish men.
Read it here!

Editorial Board
Rabbi Wayne Allen
Rabbi Leonard S. Berkowitz
Rabbi Paul Drazen
Dr Rela Mintz Geffen
Hazzan Alberto Mizrahi
Rabbi Stephan Parnes

Newsletter Chairmen
David Goldis
Randall Smith

Interested in more weekly newsletters and commentaries? We have compiled a list of other Conservative/Masorti sources. All are free, all are worth reading! Click here
Tell us what you think about this weekly letter.

Looking for an Unraveller?
All previous issues are available online!

Reading someone else's copy? Sign up here for free home delivery!

Don't want to receive the Unraveller any longer? Click here to unsubscribe. Be sure to use the e-mail address where you receive the Unraveller when you reply.

Sponsors needed!

There will be another issue of the Unraveller next week. Help keep The Unraveller going with your sponsorship!

April 18, 2011 / 15 Nisan, 5771

True Grit: The Women Who Generated the Liberation from Egypt

Rela Mintz Geffen
A special edition of The Unraveller for Seder discussion!

It is almost immediately evident to anyone who studies the Haggadah that human agency is deliberately absent from the narrative. As is the case in Exodus, the goal of the editor is to demonstrate, magnify and exalt the omnipotence of God. Many have noted that the name of Moshe doesn’t appear in the text. Others are missing as well, specifically five women who stood up to the edicts and potential wrath of an all-powerful Pharoah and ensured that Moshe would be able to live and function as a leader. These women are (in order of appearance): his mother Yocheved; the midwives Shifra and Puah; his sister Miriam; his foster Mother, the Daughter of Pharoah (named Batya by the Rabbis).

While the desire of Yocheved to save her son is immediately understandable and recognized by all, the less noted bravery of Shifra and Puah is truly heroic. In Exodus 1:15-17 it says: (all translations are new JPS)

The King of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives; one of whom was named Shifra and and the other, Puah, saying “When you deliver the Hebrew women, look at the birthstool; if it is a boy, kill him; if it is a girl, let her live.” The midwives fearing God, did not do as the king of Egypt had told them; they let the boys live.

The Hebrew phrasing “hameyaldot haivriyot” may be read and translated correctly in two ways, as the midwives of the Hebrews or as the Hebrew midwives. If Shifra and Puah were Hebrews their actions, like those of Yocheved are admirable but not entirely unexpected. If they were not Hebrews, their bravery is truly amazing. Either way, unlike much of the Hebrew populace or even Moshe, who tried (unsuccessfully) to get out of being God’s emissary numerous times, Shifra and Puah fear God and disobey Pharoah’s edict seemingly without a qualm. Perhaps their experience of regularly helping in the birth process sensitized them to the miracle of life.

Similarly, Batya, Pharoah’s daughter shows remarkable independence as she decides to take Moshe as her own son and to raise him under the nose of Pharoah in the palace. Because of her, a future leader of the Hebrews would be socialized who did not have a slave mentality, but rather that of a Hebrew/Jewish prince. (okay I couldn’t resist that one)

Miriam too shows great daring, perseverance and fortitude. As it says in Exodus 2:4, “And his sister stationed herself at a distance to learn what would befall him.”Miriam was the sentinel who, seeing the daughter of Pharaoh discover the infant, spoke right up and said (Exodus 2:7-8) “Shall I go and and get you a Hebrew nurse to suckle the child for you?” And Pharoah’s daughter said to her “Go.” So the girl went and summoned the child’s mother.” How quickly Miriam thinks! Without her quick action Moshe would not have received the benefits of having his biological mother nurture his earliest years.

Later on in the text when she takes the timbrel in her hands and leads the women in song and dance Miriam is given the title of prophet. Miriam’s leadership role is connected to water through-out the story of the Exodus. She watches over Moshe in the water, she leads the women in dancing after crossing the sea, and after her death the text reports a dearth of water for the children of Israel. The prophet Micah writes “For I brought you up out of the house of bondage; and I sent before you Moses, Aaron and Miriam.”

Adding a Cup of Miriam filled with water to the Seder table is a contemporary minhag which recalls this important connection and reminds us of all of the women who showed true grit during the Exodus. But how shall we integrate this new minhag into the liturgy? Rabbi Avis Miller suggests that at the beginning of the Seder when we recite “Ha’lachma anya” - let all who are hungry come and eat”, we fill the Cup of Miriam and recite the verse from Isaiah 55:1 “ Hoy, Kol tzamey lchu lamayim” “Ho, all who are thirsty, Come for water.”

So, this year as you recite the Haggadah, and tell of the greatness of God, take a moment or two to remember the women who were God’s instruments in making the Exodus possible.

This Pesah lesson was written by Dr. Rela Mintz Geffen.
Rela Mintz Geffen is the co-author (with Daniel Elazar) of The Conservative Movement in Judaism (SUNY Press) She is a sociologist of religion who studies the American Jewish community. Currently an Adjunct Fellow at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania,she is an alumna of the Teachers Institute of JTS and the daughter of Rabbi Joel S. Geffen z"l, who was Spiritual Advisor to the FJMC for more than four decades.

The opinions expressed in this Unraveller are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the FJMC.

FJMC International Convention 2011

Convention 2011For five exciting days you will learn, meet new friends and greet long-time friends ... and take your learning back home to help your local Men's Club and Region.

Plan to bring your family, and combine the Convention with a vacation in Southern California! Just think about theConvention 2011 fabulous beaches, fun amusement parks, famous tourist spots, and fantastic shopping that Southern California offers!
Register here for the FJMC International Convention 2011

Wednesday, July 13 to Sunday, July 17, 2011 • Orange County Hilton, Costa Mesa, California

Photographers & videographers needed!
We're going to make sure that this convention has a great photographic and video record. Let us know if you can help!
Contact agottesman@fjmc.org or stangreenspan@fjmc.org for details!

This special mailing from the FJMC is beeing sent to you and the other subscribers of the FJMC's Unraveller as a special promotion. To unsubscribe, simply send an e-mail from the address you wish to unsubscribe, to this address: end-Unraveller@fjmc-consultants.org?subject=Unsubcribe

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER! Unsubscribe here
http://twitter.com/unravellerfjmc This e-mail letter is hosted and distributed by INTERACTIVEPAGES, Toronto