Ben-Tzion Spitz
Former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay

Shmot: There’s no place like home

Even as the cell is the unit of the organic body, so the family is the unit of society. — Ruth Nanda Anshen 

Pharaoh kills and enslaves the people of Israel. They lay oppressed, beaten, dismembered. They are so demoralized that their minds have no room even for hope. When Moses arrives and offers tidings of redemption, they are too overworked, too dispirited to even contemplate the possibility of an end to their travails.

But they would be liberated, they would reconstitute their lives, and the nation of Israel would be born out of the blood of slavery, death and tyranny.

Rabbi Hirsch on Exodus 1:1 explains that the reason for the successful liberation and creation of the Israelite nation is due to one vital component – the family:

At that time God would begin the upbuilding of His people not with the rooftops, as it were, but with the rocklike foundations of the home, which are based on the mutual bonds that unite parents and their children.”

“Though each of them [the sons of Jacob] already had an independent household of his own, they all still cling firmly and closely to Jacob…All of them together are part of the same ancient tree, but each has become an independent branch, the center of a family of his own. They are still the children of Jacob, but now they also have children of their own. This family spirit which inspires each son to build his own household, but only as a branch of his father’s house, and which enables every father to live on in his children and in his children’s children, forming a close, eternal bond that binds the parents to their children and the children to their parents – this is the root of Israel’s eternal flowering. Herein lies the secret of the eternity of the Jewish people.”

That was the one element Pharaoh couldn’t break – the family unit. As long as the family remained united, as long as the family identified as a family with strong bonds between each member, there was nothing Pharaoh and the Egyptians could do to extinguish the flame of what would eventually become the Eternal people.

May we enjoy and strengthen our family bonds.

Shabbat Shalom,



To Dr. Morris & Penny Charytan, for a most special time together, and for our children’s path to the creation of a new family.

About the Author
Ben-Tzion Spitz is the former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay. He is the author of six books of Biblical Fiction and hundreds of articles and stories dealing with biblical themes. He is the publisher of Torah.Works, a website dedicated to the exploration of classic Jewish texts, as well as TweetYomi, which publishes daily Torah tweets on Parsha, Mishna, Daf, Rambam, Halacha, Tanya and Emuna. Ben-Tzion is a graduate of Yeshiva University and received his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University.
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