Get your SKINNY on in less time than it takes to unpack after your vacay!


(the pitch)

This week, the Torah gets its Girl Power on! Our peeps had been living in Egypt for generations when Pharaoh (ruler in ancient Egypt) started to freak out that there were too many Jews becoming too powerful. (Sound familiar?) Pharaoh enslaved the Jews and told two midwives, named Shifrah (sheaf-rah) and Puah (poo-ah), to kill any Jewish baby boys they delivered. Shifrah and Puah said No-Way- José and courageously refused the king’s order. Pharaoh pivoted and commanded all Egyptians to throw any Jewish newborn boys into the Nile River. This reminds Team SKINNY that “Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt,” but we digress.

When a Jewish couple named Yocheved (Yo!-ch-eh-ve​d) and Amram (Ahm-rahm) gave birth to a son, they feared for his life. To save him from Pharaoh’s river-wrath, Yocheved hid him in a waterproof basket on the banks of the Nile River then dispatched her five-year-old daughter, Miriam (same in English), to watch the basket-baby from afar. The baby was promptly found by Pharaoh’s daughter. She named him Moshe (moe-sheh), Moses in English, and raised him as her own son. Moses grew up liking the high-net-worth palace life, although he knew he was really a nice Jewish boy from the 'hood. 

One day, Moses saw an Egyptian beating a Jewish slave. He got a tribe-induced adrenaline rush and risked his life by killing the Egyptian slave-driver. Fearing the repercussions, Moses fled to Midian (present-day western Saudi Arabia, southern Jordan, southern Israel, and the Egyptian Sinai peninsula).

Sometime later, Moses came across a crazy burning bush that was on fire, but not actually burning. In a hallucination-worthy haze, Moses heard God’s voice telling him to go back to Egypt to save the Jews from slavery. Moses pleaded with God that he wasn’t man enough for the job, so God taught him some nifty magic tricks that would terrify and unnerve Pharaoh.

Moses returned to Egypt and sang the Louis Armstrong version of Let My People Go to Pharaoh. But, Pharaoh lol’d and made the Jews’ slave-labor more severe. Moses was like: “What up, God? Your plan made things worse.” God promised to make things right in next week’s Torah reading.


(the over think)

The Torah doesn’t reveal Pharaoh’s daughter’s name, but a midrash (mid-rah-sh) – ancient commentary on the Torah – says she was named Bityah (beet-yah), which means: Daughter of God. In the midrash, God tells her: “Moses was not your son, yet you called him your son; you are not My daughter, but I call you My daughter.” Team SKINNY loves it when Mr. G’s in a loving mood.

When Bityah found Moses in the basket by the river, she needed someone to nurse him. (Baby formula hadn’t been invented yet.) Miriam – who’d been watching things unfold from the riverbank – cleverly offered to hook up Bityah with an experienced wet nurse. Big Surprise: the wet nurse was Yocheved. So, Moses was nursed and cared for by his own mother for years. She told him he was Jewish and taught him to be brave. And, Moses was saved from Pharaoh’s baby-killing-decree by his adoptive mom, Bityah. Team SKINNY heard that Moses even got to call Pharaoh, “Gramps.”


(to be in-the-know)

The Torah is divided into five books that are named after Moses: the Five Books of Moses:
1.  Genesis | Bereisheit (beh-rey-sheet)
     In the Beginning
2.  Exodus | Shemot (sheh-mote)
     The Names
3.  Leviticus | Vayikrah (vie-eek-rah)
     And God Called
4.  Numbers | Bamidbar (Bah-meed-bar)
     In the Desert
5.  Deuteronomy | Devarim (deh-var-eem) 
     The Words 

In last week’s SKINNY, we finished reading Genesis, the first book of the Torah. This week, we’re starting the second book, which is called Exodus in English and Shemot (sheh-mote) in Hebrew and it means: The Names. Like all of the Five Books of Moses, the first word of the book is also the book’s name and the first word of each chapter is also the chapter’s name. So, this week’s Torah reading is called Shemot and it’s the first chapter in the book of Shemot.


(bookmark. reflect. share.)

It’s a custom to say: “Be Strong, Be Strong, and May We be Strengthened” when we finish reading a book in the Torah. It’s a great way to end something. It honors our accomplishment and encourages us to keep up the great work! Similarly, when we start something new, we typically ease into it. For example: we warm up before working out, we small talk before big talks, and we foreplay before… er…playing. This week, we’ve started a new book – Exodus – but there isn’t a similar “Be Strong, Be Strong” phrase for starting a new book in the Torah as there is for when we finish one. Instead, it’s customary to just jump right in and start reading. Team SKINNY wonders if there are times in our lives when it makes more sense to skip the mantra-saying-warming-up-small-talking-foreplaying and instead: Just Do It? Tell Us What You Think!


(to chew on)

  • The Burning Bush was on fire, but did not burn. What’s your Burning Bush? (Sorry…We couldn’t help ourselves.) What’s the fire within you? What’s your burning desire? Are you conscious of your flame and spark? What’s your contribution to other people’s light? Who do you illuminate? Who illuminates you?
  •  This week’s Torah reading features 5 kick-ass women: 1) Shifrah, 2) Puah, 3) Bityah, 4) Yocheved, and 5) Miriam. Shifrah and Puah were so courageous they would have been in the Dauntless faction of the Divergent series. Bityah defied her own father to save a Jewish baby from death. Then, she adopted him and lovingly raised him as her own son. A midrash praises Shifrah, Puah, and Bityah for standing up to Pharaoh and it’s told that they joined the team and became Jews-by-choice. Yocheved was strong and selfless. She saved her son’s life by allowing him to be adopted and raised by Bityah, which ultimately led to the Jewish people’s liberation from slavery. Miriam was only five years old when she bravely hid by the river’s edge and offered to procure a wet nurse for Moses. If you could choose a guardian angel from among these 5 women to protect and guide you, who would you select and why?
  • We’re starting a new book of the Torah and also starting a New Year this week. What are your New Beginning wishes, desires, and dreams for 2016? Tell Us!