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A Border Birth

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The sum of the souls of the house of Jacob who came to Egypt was seventy

Genesis 46:27

The total sum given by the Torah is seventy; but in their particular enumeration, we find only sixty nine! … Said Rabbi Chama bar Chanina: This is Yocheved… who was born between the boundary walls [of Egypt].

Talmud, Bava Batra 123a

In Egypt, there was a generation of Jews who were born back in the Holy Land. Jews who were raised in a purer environment; Jews to whom depraved Egypt was an alien world which could not touch them, and which they could neither understand nor influence.

In Egypt, there were Jews who were born after the original seventy souls of the house of Jacob had settled there. Jews who, while raised on the memories and traditions of the “old country,” knew only Egypt as their home; Jews who could relate to, and even empathize with, the culture and milieu of their adoptive land.

In Egypt, there was one Jew who was born “between the boundary walls” as Jacob’s household entered the country. A Jew who straddled the pre- and post-galut states of mind; who was neither of Egypt nor aloof from it. A Jew rooted in the past but an integral part of the present; a Jew with the power to transform Egypt without being transformed by it.

This Jew was one of the two Jewish midwives (the second was her daughter, Miriam) who delivered, sheltered and raised a generation of faithful Jews under the terrible reign of Pharaoh.

This Jew was Yocheved, mother of Moses.

Based on an address by the Rebbe[14]. By Yanky Tauber.

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[14]. Likkutei Sichot, vol. XVIII, p. 16.

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