Sunday, January 16, 2000
Sorry about last week. I'm starting to move my site from the current server to my server at work. So that means I will pay around...nothing to host my site. We can all thank my boss for that!
"And the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of the first was Shifrah and the name of the second was Puah."
Okay. So, first question is, who are these ladies who Pharoah spoke to? We learn that Shifrah was actually Yocheved (Moshe's mum) while Puah was her daughter Miriam. The men of wise attribute Yocheved's name to the fact she "smoothed out" the limbs of the infant after it was born. The Midrash tells us that her name comes from the fact that she washed off the blood which covered the babies when they "popped" out. For those who have never seen a live birth, I can tell you, it's not a pretty sight, and full of blood, mucus, and other gook. I hope you're not reading this at the Shabbos table. The question is this: Obviously Moshe's mother was a great woman, why is she referred to by this name? Isn't that a little insulting? What happens if we take Shuli Hubscher (who's a nurse in Labour & Delivery) and started calling her "Afterbirth?" I doubt she will take that as a compliment!
A name that a person has describes that personality. Obviously this is true since Michael, for example, is "Mi Cha K'ail" or "Who is like G-d". Remember who Yocheved was. She was born as Yaakov and his family entered the gates of Egypt, she married the leader of the Jewish people, and she gave birth to Moshe, Aaron, and Miriam who liberated the Jews. Why did the Torah name her based on the fact that she helped deliver children?
Rav Goldwasser cites Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz who said, "It is not the action that determines an individual's greatness, but rather, it is the person who determines the action." That is, if a great person performs an action, no matter how small, it becomes a noble act, just by the fact that that individual did it.
We see that Yocheved did not grow simply by doing "the big things" in life. She's not praised for just taking the hard way and making it through. She took a simple job and raised it to a level of holiness. That is why she is known as Shifrah. In order to grow, we do not go out and look for the hardest mitzvos possible. We take every little mitvah and treat it like the only mitzvah we can do. By putting our heart and soul into that little mitzvah, we too can grow to great heights. Have a great Shabbos!
Print Dvar Torah