13 And the Egyptians en slaved the children of Israel with rigor. 14 And they made bitter their lives by harsh work in clay and in bricks and in every work in the open field—every work in which one works with rigor. 15 And the king of Egypt' said to the Hebrew midwives—the name of one of them was Shiphrah and the name of the second was Puah— 16 and he said: “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women, you shall see (them) upon the birthstools; if it is a male son you shall kill him, and if it is a female daughter she shall live.” 17 But the midwives feared beforej the Lord, and they did not do as the king of Egypt had spoken with them but let the children live. 18 And the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them: “For what reason have you done this thing, that you have let the children live?” 19 And the midwives said to Pharaoh: “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous. Before the midwife comes to them, they pray before their Father in the heavens, and he answers them and they give birth.” 20 And the Lord dealt favorably with the midwives, and the people multiplied and grew strong.
Rabbi Eliezer the Great says: From the day the Second Temple was destroyed, the generations have deteriorated: Scholars have begun to become like scribes that teach children, and scribes have become like beadles, and beadles have become like ignoramuses, and ignoramuses are increasingly diminished, and none ask and none seek. Upon whom is there to rely? Only upon our Father in heaven. He also said: In the times of the approach of the Messiah, impudence will increase and high costs will pile up. Although the vine shall bring forth its fruit, wine will nevertheless be expensive. And the monarchy shall turn to heresy, and there will be no one to give reproof about this. The meeting place of the Sages will become a place of promiscuity, and the Galilee shall be destroyed, and the Gavlan will be desolate, and the men of the border shall go round from city to city to seek charity, but they will find no mercy. And the wisdom of scribes will putrefy, and people who fear sin will be held in disgust, and the truth will be absent. The youth will shame the face of elders, elders will stand before minors. Normal family relations will be ruined: A son will disgrace a father; a daughter will rise up against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man’s enemies will be the members of his household. The face of the generation will be like the face of a dog; a son will no longer be ashamed before his father. And upon what is there for us to rely? Only upon our Father in heaven. Rabbi Pineḥas ben Ya’ir says: Torah study leads to care in the performance of mitzvot. Care in the performance of mitzvot leads to diligence in their observance. Diligence leads to cleanliness of the soul. Cleanliness of the soul leads to abstention from all evil. Abstention from evil leads to purity and the elimination of all base desires. Purity leads to piety. Piety leads to humility. Humility leads to fear of sin. Fear of sin leads to holiness. Holiness leads to the Divine Spirit. The Divine Spirit leads to the resurrection of the dead.