Hebrew Midwives

Moshe Ben-Chaim


G-d's will is that man be formed as an infant, so that he experiences the phenomena of 'looking up to parents'. This relationship where parents are authoritative is needed if man is to eventually relate to G-d as an authority. Without this gradual process of growth wherein children develop authority roles in their mind, their relationship with G-d will be severely lacking.


It is G-d's will that man develop in this fashion, and that the mother is present at the side of the infants to nurture them. Yocheved and Miriam had a tradition of how to raise children. A Rabbi once explained why the Torah changes the names of Yocheved to "Shifra" and Miriam to "Pu-hah". Pharaoh had commanded these woman - the leaders of the women in Egypt - to kill the males, to which they would not comply, but saved all the children. These names refer to their physical and psychological care for those children: Yocheved would take care of the children physically, indicated by the use of the term "Shifra", and Miriam would console the children psychologically by singing to them, indicated by the term "Pu-hah". Attending to both the physical and psychological needs of a newborn, was something which was not only performed with knowledge, but was also an institution from the Forefathers. As men of great wisdom, the Forefathers understood all areas of man's needs, and this starts of course at birth. The Forefathers instituted that all Jewish mothers would cradle and pacify an infant throughout childhood so as to render each and every Jew most fit for a life of Torah. Torah enters one who is most perfected physically and psychologically. We see from this area of Chumash that the role of the woman is vital to all mankind. Since Love of G-d is the goal, man must first be rendered into one who is most receptive to ideas, and this is only if man is raised physically and psychologically sound.