If you believe in something - go for it

Believing in the correctness of our path should influence our choices even in times of difficulty and crisis. We will learn the story of women who chose to act with courage and compassion in the face of threats from the ruling authority. We will meet women (and not only Israelite women), who acted with courage against immoral decrees.

Story
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‘Women act courageously against the decrees’

Exodus: 1:16-2:9

In this lesson we will study the power of people to withstand the current and resist an immoral situation that has been imposed on them. The Jigsaw method will help us meet and understand the women who acted against Pharaoh's decrees. At the conclusion of the lesson, the students will write down insights they learned from the characters, and discuss different ways to deal with challenges and difficulties. This study will emphasize the values and qualities that were required of biblical women, and are also required of us, to act against common beliefs and according to their moral values.

El éxodo de Egipto. Mapa con explicaciones

Unit Knowledge Goals

Objetivos de conocimiento en la enseñanza de la unidad

Objectifs pédagogiques de cette unité

Familiarity with the midwives and their work, Pharaoh’s daughter, and Moses’s mother and sister.

Pédagogie

Pedagogy

Pedagogía

Teaching Practices
Pratiques pédagogiques
Aconsejamos enseñar esta unidad a través de la siguiente práctica pedagógica
Jigsaw
SEL
Aprendizaje social y emocional
ASE

Self awareness: recognising and reflecting on strengths and weaknesses, identifying emotions,

Self management: enhancing the ability to set goals and working towards them 

Background for Teaching the Unit

Contexto de la unidad didáctica

Résumé de l’unité et valeurs centrales

In the previous study unit we learned about Pharaoh’s four decrees against the Israelites. In this unit, we will meet characters who gathered courage – women who chose to act against the cruelty of the Egyptian government. In a difficult step, they choose to act in order to change reality. Each one, in her own unique way, acted out of a sense of conviction in what they believed to be true, and out of fear of God.

The Hebrew midwives believed that the future of the nation of Israel was in their hands. The courage of two special women serves as a symbol of a struggle of what can only be considered "civil disobedience" (see Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks’ article ). The Torah implies that the midwives worked quietly, without noise or publicity, as if doing the obvious thing. This way they represent the archetype of individuals possessing high moral sensitivity, which the Torah expects from every person, and, in particular, from the people of Israel.

Note - The national identity of the midwives is not explicitly stated in the Torah. Biblical commentators offer two approaches in understanding their identity and the motive for their action. According to Rashi (on Exo. 1:15), these are Moses’s mother, Yocheved, and her daughter Miriam – Hebrew midwives – while according to Abarbanel, the midwives were not Israelites: "And they could not have been Hebrew because how could he trust Hebrew women [to carry out his decrees]" (Abarbanel on Exo. 1:15). Dealing with this question and its implications appears in the self-study unit for the student] .

Moses’s mother saves a member of her own family and, in doing so, the entire nation of Israel. She recognizes Moses’s special light at birth. The Midrash states: "At the time that Moses was born, the whole house was filled with light" (Midrash Rabbah). She immediately endeavors to hide him for three months. This is how the Netziv (Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin, 1816-1893) interprets Moses’s mother's decision: "And she saw him that he was good – not like older women who give birth to very weak children, rather she saw that 'he was good,' and she was sure of Heavenly intervention, therefore, ‘and she hid him for three months.'"

Moses's sister shows great courage, both in dealing with her own family and with the outside world. According to the Midrash, she prophesied about Moses’s birth – that he would act as a redeemer of the Israelites – and she continued to act in accordance with that prophecy when she stood and watched Moses in the basket among the reeds of the Nile.

Why did Miriam stand and watch him? Rabbi Amram said in the name of Rav: Since Miriam had prophesied that her mother would give birth to a child who would redeem the Israelites, when Moses was born the entire house was filled with light and her father kissed her on the head and said: My daughter, your prophecy has been fulfilled … but once he was placed in the Nile, her mother smacked her on the head and said: My daughter – where is your prophecy now? This is why the verse says: “And his sister stationed herself at a distance, to learn what would befall him.” She was waiting to see what would be the end of her prophecy. (Exodus Rabbah 1:17)

 

על פי המדרש, היא התנבאה על הולדתו של משה - מושיע העם, והיא ממשיכה לפעול בהתאם לנבואה כשהיא עומדת ומשגיחה על התיבה: ״ לָמָּה עָמְדָה מִרְיָם מֵרָחוֹק, אָמַר רַבִּי עַמְרָם בְּשֵׁם רַב לְפִי שֶׁהָיְתָה מִרְיָם מִתְנַבֵּאת וְאוֹמֶרֶת עֲתִידָה אִמִּי שֶׁתֵּלֵד בֵּן שֶׁיּוֹשִׁיעַ אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל, כֵּיוָן שֶׁנּוֹלַד משֶׁה נִתְמַלֵּא כָּל הַבַּיִת אוֹרָה, עָמַד אָבִיהָ וּנְשָׁקָהּ עַל רֹאשָׁהּ, אָמַר לָהּ בִּתִּי נִתְקַיְּמָה נְבוּאָתֵךְ…..וְכֵיוָן שֶׁהֱטִילוּהוּ לַיְּאוֹר, עָמְדָה אִמָּהּ וְטָפְחָה לָהּ עַל רֹאשָׁהּ, אָמְרָה לָהּ בִּתִּי וְהֵיכָן נְבוּאָתֵךְ, וְהַיְנוּ דִּכְתִיב: וַתֵּתַצַּב אֲחֹתוֹ מֵרָחֹק וגו׳. לָדַעַת מַה יְּהֵא בְּסוֹף נְבִיאוּתָהּ.״ ( שמות רבה א' יז).

Moses's sister showed courage when she is commanded to take the baby to a Hebrew nurse. In his commentary, the Malbim clarifies the danger inherent in her actions and the providence and intention of God: “And his sister said. Due to God’s protection of Moses, his sister found the courage to speak before Pharaoh’s daughter and was not afraid of punishment. In addition, due to His protection, her advice to bring a Hebrew wet nurse was also accepted” (Exodus 2:7).

From Moses’s sister’s efforts we can also learn about sibling relationships in general (we will expand on issues of sibling relationships in Genesis and Exodus later on in this lesson...) . The sister takes a significant part in how the family addresses the decree and takes an active role on behalf of Moses and her family.

Pharaoh's daughter follows her inner conscience which drives her to go against her father. The Torah describes the compassion she felt when she heard Moses's cry. Another possibility for understanding Pharaoh's daughter’s actions is presented by the Midrash, which describes her actions not only as human compassion, but emphasizes her ability to discern God's presence and to act under His direction in implementing the values of human morality: "She saw God’s presence with him" (Exodus Rabbah).

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"וַתִּפְתַּח וַתִּרְאֵהוּ אֶת הַיֶּלֶד וְהִנֵּה נַעַר בֹּכֶה וַתַּחְמֹל עָלָיו

וַתֹּאמֶר מִיַּלְדֵי הָעִבְרִים זֶה"

"When she opened it, she saw that it was a child, a boy crying. She took pity on it and said, “This must be a Hebrew child"

Activité d’introduction
Actividad de apertura
Opening Activity

Donna Gracia, who was one of the Anusim Jews, returned to Judaism despite the risks, and helped her people in many ways.

As an introduction to learning about biblical figures who lived in an impossible reality and still chose to act courageously out of a desire to uphold their faith and their lifestyle, we will offer:

Reading an information sheet, followed by

A discussion of the characteristics of Donna Gracia's actions and motives, when acting on behalf of martyred and weak Jews around the world. Dona gracia

If interested, teachers can discuss an alternative personality.

The action and motives of Rosa Parks who worked for civil rights of African-Americans in the United States.

We will screen a video, and conduct a short discussion based on An introductory activity about Rosa Parks.

The video segment on this subject can be seen at the following links:

or -

 

We will also offer the option of reading the story of Rosa Parks, that will serve as a background for viewing the videos:

https://achievement.org/achiever/rosa-parks/

 

Open discussion

Let's conclude with the following questions:

   - What qualities, powers and values lead a person to act against the current?

  - What motivates people to act for something important to them?

Alternative opening activity

This activity focuses on dealing with difficulty, this time from a personal perspective.

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Coping with difficulty – A personal view
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Étude de l’histoire
Aprendiendo la historia
Learning the Story
Verses
Versets
Versículos
-

Have you heard about the decrees?

1:2:EN:2:1

We finished the previous lesson with Pharaoh's decree: “Every boy that is born you shall throw into the Nile.” In this lesson we will meet – by means of group study of the verses – women who chose to respond to this difficult decree.

Before dividing up into groups, we will read Exo. 1:22 together –

וַיְצַו פַּרְעֹה, לְכָל-עַמּוֹ לֵאמֹר

:  כָּל-הַבֵּן הַיִּלּוֹד, הַיְאֹרָה תַּשְׁלִיכֻהוּ, וְכָל-הַבַּת, תְּחַיּון

Then Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, “Every boy that is born you shall throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.”

 

We will present the following questions to the students:

-          How were the decrees received in the homes of the Israelites? What did the Egyptians think - about Pharaoh / about the decrees?

-          In your opinion, how did the people of that time feel when they heard about the decree?

Women react to the decrees

Working in groups - Jigsaw

We will divide the class into groups -

Each worksheet has two sides. The purpose of the first side is to understand the verses. The purpose of the other side is to expand and deepen that understanding.

Group A - Will learn about the response of the midwives

Group B - Will learn about Moses’s mother

Group C - Will learn about Moses’s sister

Group D - Will learn about Pharaoh's daughter

 

Attached is the worksheet Women act bravely, which includes the information of all the groups

-          Each group learns about a different character, and completes the entire worksheet.

-          Next, the groups are mixed, so that each group includes at least one representative who learned about one character from the story. Each representative will talk about the character they learned about in their original group – what she did, what qualities she had, what they think about how she acted, what motivated her, and so forth. The closing task will be done at this stage, as a joint project that will be presented to the entire class. (Students will be able to work on one of two projects, either designing a sticker or creating a comic).

-          An activity where the students collect the information and produce a creative project in the mixed groups Summary of jigsaw learning

At the end of the lesson, we will collect the final projects, and discuss how the women reacted to the decrees.

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Résumé
Resumen
Summary

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Summary for the teacher
Profundización para el docente
Approfondissement pour l’enseignant
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Points for classroom discussion

We will close the lesson with a discussion

A. The heroines

We return to the question: Who are the heroines who appear in the story? Who is mentioned by name? Who is referred to without being identified by name?

We will ask: Why do you think that some character’s names are not mentioned?

B. Choices

We will discuss the question of what motivates people in their choices in life? (respect, money, publicity, concern for others, desire to make the world a better place, social pressure, fear, values, etc.)

In this unit we met four female characters who chose to respond in specific ways to the harsh reality of Egypt.

We will ask: What did each of them do that makes them a heroine? What, in your opinion, motivated the characters to act the way they did?

Throughout the discussion we will emphasize that the characters acted in accordance with a set of personal values (e.g., Pharaoh's daughter), in accordance with faith and morality, in accordance with their existential beliefs.

We will emphasize that one of the points of slavery is the desire to erase the personal and unique identity of each person (for example, Moses’s sister is not mentioned by name, even though names are recorded in the description of the descent into Egypt). Slavery cancels out a person’s unique personality, focusing solely on their utilitarian function.

 

C. From text study to real life

-          We will ask: What difficult situations do we know about in our own lives (at school, in the world)? How can we face these realities?

-          We will ask students to share insights, including the stickers they produced in the closing task. Alternatively, students can be asked to step forward to represent the characters they have chosen, and give advice or insight – while “in character” – explaining the reality or the challenge that they grappled with.

 

In conclusion, we will emphasize that the women acted against all odds and chose a path of truth and a sense of justice, and will examine whether this feature also stood out in the characters that were studied in class. We will note that in subsequent lessons when we learn about the character of Moses, we will discover that his sense of justice and adherence to the truth will direct his actions.

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Summary for the teacher
Profundización para el docente
Approfondissement pour l’enseignant
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Resources
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