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Shemot 1:22 - Attempted genocide?

Rabbi Ari ShvatShevat 19, 5777
126
Question
Shalom Rabbi Ari, Thank you for your insights. You caught me by surprise with the midwives. I thought they were Hebrew women but after your hint I changed my mind about this. Is there more or less a concensus among the rabbis the way you explained this verse or do they follow Rashi? I also learned that they found in excavations at Avaris (Goshen) a much higher mortality rate among boys. Would it be far fetched to consider this being an indication of the attempt of the genocide on Israel in Egypt? Paul
Answer
It's true that according to the Ramban's explanation, the midwives were probably Egyptians, but it's possible that a dictator like Pharaoh would allow himself to give such an order to Hebrew midwives, as well. In general, Rashi's opinion is usually considered very accepted, because that's what we grew up on, as children. On the other hand, scholars often accept other opinions, especially when, like here, Rashi leaves the literal meaning or prefers a midrash in order to teach us an important (often ethical) lesson. Good poets and authors and sometimes eve artists, often consciously leave room for various interpretations, which harmonize and complement each-other, so how much more so does God have that "capability" and knows that trick! Accordingly, traditionally Jewish scholars usually don't refer to one "consensus" opinion, but learn all of the various interpretations, which may have been purposely left open to several interpretations. This is the type of debate which has kept us pre-occupied with the Torah for 3,300 years, and wer'e still "running strong", debating and constantly searching for new proofs to "decide" which interpretation we prefer. Archaeological proofs may be an example of such newly available material which can help us in our search for Torah truth, and it's very interesting what you cited!
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