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Wednesday, Tevet 25, 5780 / January 22, 2020


In this week's Parsha, Va’eira, G-d commands Moshe to bring encouragement to the Jewish people who were enslaved in Egypt.


The Parsha tells us that, "Moshe spoke so to the people of Israel but they didn't heed to Moshe due to their crushed spirit and their cruel bondage."  G-d then tells Moshe, "Go speak to Pharaoh, King of Egypt, that he shall send away the children of Israel from his land."


Pharaoh refused to let the Jewish people go and was punished with the ten plagues.  At each plague, Pharaoh promised to free the people, if G-d would only remove the plague. But as soon as G-d removed the plague, he refused to let them go.  Seven of the ten plagues are mentioned in this Parsha.


Q.  How old was Moshe, Aaron and their sister, Miriam, when they led the Jewish people out of Egypt?


A.  Moshe was 80, Aaron 83 and Miriam 86.


Q.  How old was Moshe's mother, Yocheved, when she gave birth to Moshe?


A.  Yocheved was 130 years old!


Q.  The Torah doesn’t tell us her age so how do we know this?


A.  It’s a simple calculation: The Torah tells us that when Yaakov and his family members moved to Egypt they totaled seventy people. Yocheved, who was born as they entered Egypt, completed the number seventy. From when Yaakov came to Egypt until the Exodus was 210 years. The Torah tells us that Moshe was 80 when he took the people out of Egypt. Thus, if Moshe was 80 years at the time of the Exodus, Yocheved was 130 when she gave birth to Moshe!


Q.   How old was Moshe when he married Tziporah?


A.   According to the Midrash, Yalkut Shimoni, he was seventy seven.


Q.  How many of the 210 years in Egypt, were the Jewish people enslaved by the Egyptians?


A.  116 years.  The enslavement began only after the last of Yaakov's children died. Yaakov's third son, Levi, lived the longest.  He died at the age of 137. He was 43 when he first came to Egypt and lived there 94 years.  Thus, if we deduct 94 from 210, we are left with 116. This is the total amount of years that the children of Israel were enslaved by the Egyptians. 


However, the harsh and “bitter” enslavement was 86 years. Miriam, who was born 86 years before the Exodus, was named Miriam, which comes from the two words “Mar” (which means bitter) and “Yam” (which means sea), because at that time began the “bitter” and most difficult hardship for the Jewish people, when Pharaoh decreed that every Jewish boy be thrown into the sea.