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Secrets in the Hagaddah

Haggith Gor and Rela Mazali

1. Many years ago in the land of Egypt
 some of the people were slaves.
 They had to work really hard all day long,
 without stopping or eating.

2. Many years ago in the land of Egypt
 some of the slaves were Hebrews,
 and they carried heavy pots of water till their backs almost broke,
 and kneaded clay and straw till their hands could hardly feel,
 and stomped wet earth into bricks till their legs could hardly stand.

 And the king’s guards watched them so they wouldn’t run away.


3. Many years ago in the land of Egypt
 the king, the Pharao, woke up one morning and said:
 “I dreamt the Hebrew slaves rebelled!
 I dreamt they wouldn’t work any more,
 I dreamt they killed my guards and ran off into the desert.”
 Pharao’s daughter was curious, “Why would they want to run off?
 Why wouldn’t they want to work anymore?”

4. Pharao said, “Slaves never want to be slaves.
 They want to be free.”
 “Then why not let them be?” Pharao’s daughter asked.
 This annoyed the Pharao. “Because free people don’t want to work so hard,”
 he said. “You need slaves for

really, really hard work from morning till night.”


5. Pharao’s dream worried him.
 He wanted slaves who were so afraid they wouldn’t dare run away.
 He decided to terrify them. He decided to put their babies to death.
 He ordered Pooa and Shifra to come to the palace.
 They were midwives, who helped the Hebrew women have their babies.
 He told them, “From this day on, when the Hebrew women have babies,
 I command you to kill all the boys.”

6. Pharao’s daughter heard him and thought,
 “Maybe my father thinks that only boys can rebell.
 But girls can too.”

7. Shifra and Pooa left the palace.
 “What’ll we do? He wants to be murderers.” Shifra said.
 “If we don’t obey, he’ll murder us.” Pooa answered.
 Shifra said, “I’d rather die than kill a baby.”
 So the Hebrew midwives decided to disobey the Pharao.

8. Pharao’s daughter was angry at her father.
  “How can you give an order to kill babies?” she asked him,
 It’s a terrible order!”
 “You don’t understand,” he answered, “I need obedient slaves,
 who are terrified of me and do what I tell them.
 I don’t want them to take sticks and beat my guards and run away
 to the desert.
 And now, enough of your questions.”
 Pharao’s daughter didn’t answer.
 In the land of Egypt, many years ago, no one argued with the Pharao,
 not even his daughter.

9. Months passed and Pharao had another bad dream.
 He ordered the midwives to come to the palace.
 “I’ve heard you’ve disobeyed me,” he shouted at them.
 “You haven’t killed the baby boys. Now it’s your turn.
 I’ll have you killed!” he said.

10. Pooa told the king, “We tried to do what you said.
 But... but we... we just... couldn’t because... because...”
 “Because the Hebrew women have their babies so fast!”
 They have them before we ever get there to help them out.” Shifra added.
 Pharao sent them away and gave a new command:
 “Every baby boy who is born to the Hebrews is to be thrown into the river.”

11. One of the Hebrew slaves was a woman named Yocheved.
 She was pregnant but she still had to work really hard from morning till night.
 When her tummy got bigger, she still had to knead clay and straw,
 when it got absolutely huge, she still had to carry heavy bricks.
 One evening she felt contractions starting
 and they went on and on, all night long.
 Pooa and Shifra came to help her out
 and next morning she gave birth to a cute baby boy.

12. “Why don’t you hide your baby,” Pooa suggested.
 “Don’t obey the Pharao’s order,” she urged.
 Miriam, the baby’s big sister, helped hide him.
 She took care of him while Yocheved was at work.
 She tickled his toes and made funny faces.
 He nursed and slept and grew fast.
 In the land of Egypt many years ago,
 babies nursed and slept and grew fast
 just like they do today.

13. At the palace, Pharao’s daughter was still angry.
 She was so angry at her father’s command
 that she didn’t want to have anything to do with him.
 She didn’t want to see him or talk to him.
 “No one argues with the Pharao,” she thought,
 “but I can do something anyway.”

14. She went to the place where the slaves lived, near the river.
 As she walked along the water, she heard a gurgling sound.
 She peeked through some branches
 and saw a basket bobbing on the water.
 There was a baby inside, a baby boy,
 stretching his hands out to catch the leaves.
 He looked at Pharao’s daughter and laughed.
 She bent over him and he caught hold of her sparkling neclace.

15. Miriam was behind a bush, watching over her brother.
 She was really scared when she saw the Egyptian woman.
 She jumped out to pick up the baby and run.
 But Pharao’s daughter told her,
 “Don’t worry. I won’t tell.
 I’m glad you’re hiding him. You’re so brave.”

16.  Miriam was confused. She blurted out, “He’s my little brother.
 “I’m just helping my mother.”
 “You’re helping your mother hide him?” Pharao’s daughter asked.
 “That’s wonderful. I’m so glad you didn’t obey the awful command
 my father gave.”

17. “Your father?!” Miriam was petrified.
 “That man is your father? What are you doing here?!”
 “He’s my father,” Pharao’s daughter answered,
 “but I hate his command.
 I don’t have to be like him, even if he is my father.”

18. Then Pharao’s daughter said, “I’d like to help.
 How about hiding your brother at the palace?
 We’ll dress him up, like a king’s son.
 My father would never dream of looking for a Hebrew baby
 inside the palace, right under his nose.”

19. “But who’ll nurse him?” Miriam asked.
 “Palace babies have nannies and nurses,” Pharao’s daughter said.
 “Your mother can come and work at the palace.
 She can be his nanny and nurse him.”
20. And so it was.
 Pharao’s daughter took the baby to the palace
 and dressed him in rich clothes.
 Yocheved went to the palace
 and became the baby’s nurse.
 The baby - Moses - had two mothers:
 mamma Pharao’s daughter, a rich and educated Egyptian princess
 mamma slave’s daughter, a poor uneducated Hebrew slave woman.
 And he had his big sister Miriam too.

21. Many many years ago in the land of Egypt
 the women were the only ones who knew this secret.
 They were the only ones who knew how they had tricked the Pharao, together.
 When Moses got old enough to keep their secret,
 they told him how they’d saved his life.
 He became a sensitive, charming youth,
 who would never forget the love and courage
 of the women who disobeyed the king.


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