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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

The Five

A certain member of the house of Levi went and took [into his household as his wife] a woman of Levi.

The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw how beautiful he was, she hid him for three months.

When she could hide him no longer, she got a wicker basket for him and caulked it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child into it and placed it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile.

And his sister stationed herself at a distance, to learn what would befall him.

Shemot 2: 1-4

וַיֵּ֥לֶךְ אִ֖ישׁ מִבֵּ֣ית לֵוִ֑י וַיִּקַּ֖ח אֶת־בַּת־לֵוִֽי׃


Hello Everyone,

Welcome to the book of Shemot. We have progressed from the choosing of one son over another through the book of Breisheet, but we finished the book primed for this next chapter in our collective story. The brothers, their children and grandchildren lived under Egyptian rule for generations, until a Pharaoh came who no longer recalled Joseph.

The following chapters introduce us to the family of Moshe. Other than identifying the family as part of tribe of Levi, at this point they remain nameless. I have always thought that they remain unidentified because any of them could be a family, any family, during times of strife for the Jewish people.

They are a nuclear family. A traditional family. A father, mother and sister are introduced here. Later we will be introduced to the brother of the beautiful baby boy. The time they live in is murderous and threatening. The small family seems to lack power during this stressful time, but both the mother and sister are resourceful and bold, which provides us, the learners, with an apt introduction to the women of Parshat Shemot.

This week I have written about this small family unit who are largely unprotected from the cruelty of the Pharaoh. One small family unit up against the power. It could be anybody. It could be anytime.

The strange story of faith and a God who hears the cries of the people begins.

Wishing for good news soon on this 86th day of war in Israel.



The Five

They are

five slender stalks of wheat

in the warring winds of the field.

They are five small smooth pebbles on the seashore

clinging to the sands as the tide rolls in.

They are five naked chicks in their woven nest being hunted by the merciless hawk.

They are five slender silver minnows in a school of thousands

fleeing the jaws of cold eyed sharks.

They are five fingers of a hand balled tight

mother, father, sister, big brother, little brother.

Nameless, faceless, formless

they hold each other tight as tides change,

as winds blow and hunters hunt.

For the haunted, the hunted

the clock could be anytime,


They have always been there.

They are there still.

The powerless waiting for the powerful to strike.

For the winds to turn.

Swim, little silver fish.

Cling, small, smooth pebbles.

Hide, blind little chicks.

Bow your heads, slender stalks,

for all you have is each other.

Sometimes that is enough.

Sometimes it is not.

The tide slowly rolls out

Where hide the pebbles?

The wind ceases its endless whistles.

Where are the slender stalks?

The shark has eaten its fill.

Where are the silver minnows?

The hawk has descended

Swift and silent

Where are the chicks?

Five fingers on a hand squeezed tight.

There is life still.

Hold on.


Other posts in Words Have Wings on Parshat Shemot:


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