This Shabbat, as we begin a new year we also begin a new book in the Torah. In the Book of Shemot, we tell the story of our redemption from Egypt. This week, we read about the birth of Moses. The Torah's description of that fateful moment echoes the moment of the birth of the world. Upon his birth, Moses' mother, Yocheved, "sees that he is good"- "vatereh oto ki tov hu"- just as God sees the light of creation and affirms, "this is good."
Moses enters the world at a time when the Children of Israel are living under Pharaoh's ruthless decree that all Israelite baby boys born in Egypt are to be put to death. Courageous midwives Shifra and Puah defy the orders of Pharaoh and allow the babies to live, at the risk of their own lives. Yocheved sees the goodness in her newborn baby. She dares to imagine a bright future for her youngest child; she dares to hope.
Moving into 2016, I am grateful for the new souls who have entered the world in the past year. And my heart is heavy for the souls lost- those dear to us and to others; lives stolen by violence, terror, racism and injustice- in the United States, in Israel and around the world. Moses, Yocheved, Shifra and Puah are beacons of light in dark times. May their stories remind us of the goodness that is already around us and within us, and the goodness that is yet to be born. May their actions inspire us to step into this new year with moral courage and with hope.