Early on in Shemot (Exodus), God appears to Moses and convinces him to take the lead in liberating the Jewish slaves from Egypt. Moses eventually sets out on his way, but before he has even arrived in Egypt he encounters God, who appears, inexplicably, to want him dead. Moses’ wife, Zipporah, steps in and circumcises their son, thereby saving her husband from death.
This story is undoubtedly one of the strangest stories in the entire Torah, and yet it is generally glossed over completely in our headlong rush to reach the important parts of the narrative — the story of the Exodus itself.
Rabbi Dunner pauses to take a look at this extraordinary vignette, and offers some pretty remarkable interpretations, all of them based on Jewish religious literature’s most ancient sources.
What is the relevance of the rest-stop that is mentioned in the story? Why would Moses’ life have been in danger? What is the significance of the circumcision? The answers to these questions and the many more emanating from this curious incident are fundamental to understanding who Moses was, and what had happened to him during his exile from Egypt.