This is a story of redemption. Of revolution. Of connection. Of women who connected to their inner power and fully realized their dreams of freedom, hand in hand, as a community and led their tribe to redemption. This is a story about the midwives who helped birth the Jewish nation and our birthright. 


Miriam (also known as Puah the midwife in the Talmud), Miriam’s mother Yocheved (known as midwife Shiphrah), and the Pharaoh’s daughter, Batya, all led by connecting, rather than overcoming. Their bravery and collaboration brought about a people willing to risk it all to save themselves from their oppressors.

In our story of redemption, many know of Miriam as the prophet and older sister of Moses, who boldly decides to follow her newborn brother as he floats down the river convinces the pharaoh's daughter to have her mother serve as his wet nurse. But what is often in the shadows of this story is that Miriam was a force for revolution long before following Moses down the river. After the Pharaoh decrees that all the first-born sons shall  be killed, her father divorces her mother, and encourages others to do the same in order to avoid the birth and killing of baby boys.  Miriam, of course, decries his actions. He heeds her words and remarries her mother, leading to the birth of Aaron and Moses. Miriam was said to be the first midwife to rebel against the pharaoh’s edict to kill the first-born sons, and thus, she started the revolution. Once free, Miriam did not command the people to do anything;  she simply took up her drum and began to dance, while  thousands followed her in redemption and triumph! 

Also hidden in the recesses of our redemption story are two other female leaders:   


The mother of Miriam, Aaron and Moses, gave birth and raised strong, resilient leaders. She gave up her newborn (down the Nile), then nursed and gave over her son Moses into the hands of the Pharaoh’s daughter. What a model of courage, selflessness, and trust.   


The pharaoh’s daughter, knowingly took a Hebrew baby into her care. She agreed to Miriam’s overture to have a Hebrew wet nurse care for the baby until weaned, to then be returned to Batya’s home and care. Thus, saving his life and mothering the future liberator of the Hebrew people. What an impact she had on the nurturing of this eventual leader of the Hebrews. Batya—a quiet but noble ally to the Hebrew people—we see you, we thank you.  

We are at a critical moment today, one in desperate need of revolution and resistance. One that will take leadership in small and big movements to make the changes we want to see in our personal lives and to shift the world for the better. What we can learn from Miriam, Batya, and Yocheved, the female leaders of this story, is that we can lead by connecting with ourselves (our desires, beliefs, and our values) and with others--empowering those around us to be brave and take action. Most importantly, let us not forget the power of an ally. Let Batya’s example of taking huge risks, speaking up, and putting in place protections to keep Moses safe, help us feel the strength and fortitude to nurture those in need within our community and to be an ally for others. 

What we can ask ourselves is this: What if any one of these women chose not to act? What if Miriam never convinced her father to remarry her mother? What if Miriam never followed Moses down the river or approached Batya so boldly? And what if Batya wasn’t brave enough to take in this Hebrew babe? Our fate would be so different. Their stories can inform us as we seek to discover our inner leader and move towards a brighter and freer tomorrow. 

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haggadah Section: -- Exodus Story
Source: At The Well