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    Shifrah & Pu’ah – Sh’mot

    midwives shifra puahThe two midwives, Shifrah and Pu’ah, were essential aides to the mother.

    Rashi (Ex. 1:15) tells us that the name Shifrah is connected with a verb that means to improve. Her role was to facilitate the birth and improve the child’s emergence into the world.

    What about the second midwife? Rashi says that Pu’ah is from a root that means to talk. Her task was to make calming sounds and croon to ease the child’s arrival.

    The emphasis in this explanation is on the baby. Other commentators stress the well-being of the mother and suggest that it was there where the midwives had a major role – to help the mother through the trauma and difficulty of childbirth.

    Between them these two interpretations vividly illustrate how valuable a good midwife is.

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