Wednesday, January 16, 2002
This week's parsha is Torah, Book II: Attack of the Egyptians. We're introduced to the Jews being enslaved, Moshe being born, married, speaking to G-d, etc..., and beginning his first dialogue with Pharaoh. Lou and I would enjoy these upcoming parshas. When we were in Yeshiva together and the Rabbi would be giving his talk on the parsha, we would always interrupt with, "...but Rebbe...in the movie, 'The Ten Commandments,' Heston...I mean 'Moses,' never said that!" They were not very happy with us. :)
Interesting question is often raised concerning Moshe. Moshe is not a hebrew name. At least originally it wasn't. Moshe was an Egyptian name, given to him by Pharaoh’s daughter who found him in the Nile and named him that, since "I drew him out of the water." (2:10) So, the question is, why does the Torah apply his Egyptian name when referring to him? Why not call him by the name his real mother gave him?
The Torah relates that when Aharon went to greet Moshe, he did so with a heart full of joy. The Medrash writes that had he known this act would have been recorded, he would have met Moshe will drums and horns. Several weeks ago, Reuvein is credited with saving the life of Yosef when he told his brothers that Yosef should not be killed. The Medrash tells us that had he known this act was going to be recorded in the Torah, he would have carried Yosef home to his father on his own shoulders.
Does this mean that Aharon and Reuvein only did their acts, only for some possible reward and credit? Did they act in a manner that is beneath them? Did they care more about how they looked to others than spiritual growth? The answer is an obvious no. Whenever we do an action, we tend to do it in a matter-of-a-fact way, mainly because we tend to live a matter-of-a-fact life. The Torah clearly states that Aharon went to meet Moshe with a happy heart; therefore we must believe that Aharon was indeed happy to see Moshe. Similarly with the case of Reuvein, we see that he had the right intentions when saving Yosef.
When Reuvein was saving Yosef, he had no clue that this one act of kindness ended up saving the entire Jewish people. Similarly, when Aharon met Moshe and greeted him warmly, he had no clue that this one act of kindness helps reassure Moshe of his leadership role. When the daughter of Pharaoh rescued Moshe from the Nile, she thought she was taking pity on a child, nothing more, nothing less. She had no clue that Moshe was going to be the redeemer of the Jewish people, and lead them to their spiritual apex.
These three cases are examples where a person did something that they thought was an everyday thing, but was in reality an event that helped save and mold the entire Jewish nation. Had they realized this at the time when they were doing their respective actions, they would have made even a bigger "to do" about it!
The Ateres Mordechai writes, that when we refer to Moshe by his Egyptian name, not only are we showing honour and respect to Pharaoh’s daughter, but we are also reminding ourselves of this important lesson. Something which we might deem so small can in fact lead to a pivotal moment of our history. Each and every time we do a mitzvah, no matter how small and insignificant we think it is, we need to remind ourselves of these three cases. It's stated in Pirkei Avos (2:1), "Be as scrupulous in performing a 'minor' mitzvah as in a 'major' mitzvah, for you do not know the reward given for the respective mitzvos." Not only do we not know the reward, we do not even know the historical consequences that might evolve from doing that mitzvah. By performing those "small" mitzvos in a full-hearted way, we might be changing the course for the entire Jewish people. Have a great Shabbos!
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