When a Baby Started Screaming in the Middle of the Class

When a Baby Started Screaming in the Middle of the Class

On Shabbat, at the weekly neighborhood class for mothers and daughters, Rabbanit Tal Rachmani spoke about midwives Miriam and Yocheved who refused to obey Pharaoh’s inhuman decree that they murder all the newborn males, thereby saving a generation of Jewish boys.
According to Rashi, Rabbanit Tal continued, Miriam is called Puah in this parsha, because: “she would coo [Poah] and talk to the newborn in the way a woman does when she is calming down a crying baby.” And by doing so, the Maharal explained, Miriam/Puah provided those babies born into the harsh realities of slavery that, despite the brutality and despair that cast a shadow over their lives, there IS love, hope, goodness in the world. Miriam/Puah’s loving care of the babies was what, ultimately, prepared these future slaves for the possibility of freedom, enabling the Exodus to take place.
A few minutes later, behind me, a baby started crying. Loudly. I didn’t turn around. I didn’t want the mother to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed.
As the baby continued to cry, Rabbanit Tal’s face contorted, as if in pain. My stomach clenched, as I braced myself for her to say, “Listen, I love babies, but not in my class! Please take your baby elsewhere!”
But instead, she said to that mother, “Oy! He’s crying! Look at you, taking care of him! You are nothing less than a modern Puah!”
And I turned around finally to see the young mother whose baby was crying. And I saw that as she carried her baby into a side room to care for him, there was a smile on her lips, equal parts bashful and proud.

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