Parshat Shemot From Aish HaNER

Posted on July 21, 2008

Pharaoh, the king of Egypt had a scheme to murder the male newborns of the Israelites. He wanted the Hebrew midwives Shifra and Puah to kill the male newborns at birth. However, these righteous women ignored his command. Rashi comments on the names of these midwives as follows:

Shifra – this is Yocheved (Moshe?s mother). She was called Shifra because she adorned the child. (She cleaned the child after birth.)

Puah – this is Miriam. She was called Puah because she would murmur to the child in order to pacify the child?s wailing like saying ?Pu Pu Pu.”

Why does the Torah have to go out of its way to enumerate the various names of the midwives as explained by Rashi? Why are their activities as midwives so important?

According to the ?Bigdei Kehuna? as explained by Rabbi Yehuda Katz, the Torah is teaching us a very important lesson. That is to say, every action a person does is recorded and acknowledged by G-d. Nobody can possibly hide from G-d. It’s impossible. No act should ever be deemed insignificant, especially seemingly small acts of kindness. A person might not even consider the activities of the midwives to be of any significance, yet the Torah makes it significant. Small acts of everyday kindness are valuable indeed. Can we possibly afford to neglect the treasure trove of good deeds that are blatantly before us?