Points to Ponder

Shemos 5778

Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Schwartz


וילך איש מבית לוי  A man went from the house of Levi  (2:1) – Why do we not identify Moshe’s parents at this point? Rav Moshe Feinstein ztl. explains that when a child is born, even when the child is born with supernatural circumstances as was with Moshe, it is too early for parents to take credit for the child. Only when a parent sees the child reach his or her true potential can the parents take credit for raising him. Even when Moshe stepped up and saved the  עברי being beaten by the מצרי, Moshe’s parents’ names are not yet revealed because Moshe did not just merely possess the power of מסירות נפש for one’s fellow man, he also had the power to be Moshe Rabbeinu.  Only when Moshe was selected to take Bnei Yisrael out of Mitzrayim do we find the names of Amram and Yocheved mentioned explicitly in the Torah for being able to properly encourage him to achieve his fullest potential. Rav Belsky ztl. adds that parents sometimes sell their children short – encouraging them to reach potentials that are great but not letting them get to their fullest potential in their existence – to become all that they can be.

ותשלח את אמתה  She sent forth her hand and took it (2:5) – The Talmud (Megillah 15b) notes that her hand grew 60 Amos. Why 60 Amos? Rav Betzalel Rudinsky Shlita explains that Moshe’s saving represents  the message of he who transmits the Torah to Bnei Yisrael. The transmission of Torah does not happen without Siyata D’Shmaya – hence the miracle of extending her hand. And the 60 Amos? They are representative of the 60 Mesechtos of Torah Shel Baal Peh.

ויצא משה אל אחו וירא בסבלותם  And Moshe went out among his brothers and saw their distress (2:11) – What does this Possuk mean? Rav Sabato Shlita explains that this possuk  serves to show us the greatness of Moshe who, having grown up in the palace of Pharaoh and later merely lived in Yisro’s home, still developed a sense of responsibility and kindred spirit with the slaves. It would have been impossible to have a leader grow from the slave mentality to get the people to complete and total emancipation but it also would have been impossible for the leader to identify with the people without the intervention of Hashem in both spheres – a person who would appreciate and feel for the people while seeing beyond their ability to see and help them reach freedom.


אכן נודע הדבר The matter has become known (2:14) – Rashi quotes from the Midrash that the matter that became apparent was why the Jews were in Galus. If we snitch on one another instead of joining together, it leads to Galus – not Geulah. Rav Schachter Shlita quoted the Maharal who says Geulah only happens when there is a sense of צניעות – not blabbering on one another. When we lead a life of Tzniyus then we have a madreiga for Geulah. We are only entitled to Geulah if we are צנועים. Rav Schachter Shlita often reminds us that Hashem is a קאל מסתתר, he moves as a צנועה and expects the same of us.

של נעליך מעל רגליך   Remove your shoes from your feet (3:5) – Why does it make a difference if a person wears shoes on his feet when he is in a holy place? Rav Mattisyahu Solomon Shlita explains that shoes are man’s way of showing leadership over the rest of the world. When man puts on shoes he makes a Beracha שעשה לי כל צרכי because Hashem is the one who gave him that opportunity. When in the presence of the one who gave you the power, it is only appropriate to demonstrate a sense of humility in the presence of the one who really wields the power over all of the earth – hence we remove our shoes.

ויען משה ויאמר והן לא יאמינו לי ולא ישמעו לקוליMoshe responded and said they shall not believe me and will not hear my voice (4:1) – Why the double language? Rav Gifter Ztl. explained that the power of שמיעה covers those situations where the listener cannot get to the depth of that being said to him. The listener merely hears and then does – he does not listen. Moshe refers to the fact that the people will not believe  and as a result they will be unable to listen. One they don’t listen, the noise from my lips will become insignificant to them.


 ויאמר הלא אהרן אחיך הלוי ידעתי כי דבר ידבר הוא He said “behold your brother Aharon, the Levi  I know that he will speak (4:14)Rashi explains that Aharon was supposed to be a Levi and you the Kohein but Hashem will now change that. What is the מידה כנגד מידה in that punishment? Rav Meir Shapiro ztl. explains that Moshe was amazed that a miraculously repaired mouth would be used for anything other than Kedusha. To that Hashem explained that originally I expected Aharon to have been the one to use his voice in my service but based on your argument, it will now be you. In essence, Hashem was telling Moshe that his argument was a sound one – and his voice would indeed be the way he would service Hashem.

Haftorah:   את מי יורה דעה...גמולי מחלב מעתיקי משדיםTo whom shall we teach knowledge…to those weaned from mother’s milk  (Yeshayahu 28:9)- Yeshayahu gives mussar to the people about their endless seeking of earthly desires which caused them to leave Hashem. He calls their homes one filled with vomit – with no clean place, and no one left to handle the Torah transmission in the next generation. The Gemara (Sotah 12b) uses our Possuk as a context to understanding a famous midrash that Moshe Rabbeinu refused to accept nursing from a gentile woman. Indeed the Rema (Y.D. 81:7) notes that טמטום הלב  which results in a bad natured child is something that parents should protect children from. Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky ztl. asks how is it that this is a requirement for every Jewish child if it is only Moshe Rabbeinu who was going to speak with the Shechina, who needed to be careful. Why do we learn from Moshe? Rav Yaakov answers that every Jewish child has the potential to become a Tzaddik like Moshe. The parents must remember this when raising their children and setting the goals for their lives as well.