This week in honor of our parsha, I am introducing a new Jewish proverb: If I live my life only for me, then it is only me whom my eye can see. But if I live my life for Thee, then my me becomes free because of a greater we.
Moshe Rabbeinu was assigned the role as the redeemer of the Jewish Nation from Mitzrayim because he lived the life of “we”. In Yiddish such a person is called a Yenemite (not to be confused with Yemenite) for he is always thinking how to benefit the other person (yenim) besides himself. The passuk says (Shmos 2,11) ויצא אל אחיו וירא בסבלותם Moshe went out from his comfortable royal palace where he was raised as the adopted son of Basya the daughter of Pharoah, in order to see and feel the plight of the unfortunate, his own people in slavery. He seeks to experience their inner pain as the passuk adds the letter bais to the word סבלותם to convey not merely a superficial inspection of their severe condition but an exacting one. In fact Chazal tell us that he removed his royal clothing and jumped into the mud pits to help his brethren build bricks and to experience the pain of the whip lashes of their oppressors on his back for working too slow in fulfilling impossible tasks.
The toll of Galus isנסתמו עיניהם ולבם של ישראל מצרת השעבוד (Rashi beginning of Vayechi) the eyes and hearts of Yisrael have been closed. Galus causes fragmentation of the achdus that once resided amongst Yidden, and the looking out for and feeling for another Yid’s plight has waned. Moshe who was not part of the Galus was able to seek and feel the pain of others as if it was his ownנתן עיניו ולבו להיות מיצר עליהם (Rashi, Shmos 2,11))
Moshe was given the name of משה for he was drawn up from the water of the Nile (ibid 10). If this is the source of Moshe’s name he should have rather been called משוי which translates as drawn up, in contrast to משה which means to draw others? Moshe was a giver not a receiver. During his lifetime he drew others to a better place both spiritually and physically. Chazal say that Basya came down to bathe for her leprosy that afflicted her. Yet at the moment she touched the basket in which Moshe lay she was immediately cured from her disease. Moshe Rabbeinu began his career of chesed and healing as a Yenemite as a newborn.
I want to quote from my Rebbi Rav S Freifeld ztl. He explained once, why the term chesed is an appropriate term for acts of kindness. A person is by nature egocentric, only concerned with his own needs and desires. Only when one can go beyond the boundaries of his self – centeredness, like a chassid – one who goes lifnim nishuras hadin, beyond established boundaries’ – is he ready to do chesed.” (from the book Reb Shlomo p.217).
The gematriah of רצון , desire, is one more that משה. Moshe’s desires were all focused above and beyond himself towards the benefit of others, far removed from selfishness and self interests. The Torah testifies that Moshe was the most humblest man who ever walked the earth. The greater degree of wee fosters a greater inclusion of we.
There are two opposing life forces that drive a person, and they are to give and to take. The acts of Giving breed happiness and self fulfillment while acts of taking, on the contrary leave a trail of emptiness and dissatisfaction. A person in Lashon Hakodesh is called גבר which is the English equivalent of Giver. Yet these same letters of גבר can be scrambled to spell Grab which is an act of taking. All choices in life fall into one of these two categories. These identical letters spell the word בגר which means maturity. The difference between a child and an adult is that a child’s orientation is basically selfish and being a taker. Maturity brings an individual to the realization that life is about giving to others and not just receiving.
Another interpretation of the word גבר is rooster (Yuma Perek 1, Mishna 8). Hashem placed within the rooster the natural ability to differentiate between day and night and to proclaim the day’s arrival with an alarm clock to the public. This is one interpretation of the first beracha of Birkas Hashachar הנותן לשכוי בינה להבחין בין יום ובין לילה (שכוי is the rooster). Its relationship to the word גבר in the light of the above is incredible. Many times one cannot easily differentiate and determine between a selfish motivated act and an altruistic one which are comparative to day and night. For sometimes the viewing of a conduct that has the characteristic nature of giving could be actually solely motivated by selfishness. The giver hopes to receive something beneficial in return, for instance to receive honor and praise. The same is true with the act of taking for it can be motivated solely by the act of giving. For example, taking doubles of a serving only for the sake of making your spouse feel good about her new recipe. We find that The word שכוי also is interpreted to mean heart. The external act does not always reveal the motivation, the neshamah, behind it. Sometimes only the heart and Hashem know the honest truth.
Moshe is described as a young lad crying. Question? Moshe was just a new born infant so how could his crying voice take on the characteristic of someone over Bar Mitzvah age? The answer is that Basya noticed that the cry of Moshe possessed a characteristic of an adult who has the ability to cry for someone else’s tzaros over his own personal woes. It is that for this reason she remarked that this baby must be Jewish (ibid 6). Only Yidden who have the nature of achdus inborn within them can achieve such a madraigah. The Shechinah that hovered upon him in the basket was a proof of his exceptional spiritual maturity from birth (Rashi). Yet it was not just regular Shechinah. Let us not forget that Am Yisrael at that time in history already sunk to the level of the 49th degree of tumah. Nevertheless, the daughter of Pharaoh was still able to perceive its presence due to its great intensity hovering over the infant Moshe. A super Shechinah was there because of Moshe Rabbeinu.
ויגדל משה ויצא אל אחיו Moshe grew and he went out to his brothers. This is difficult to understand since it already said previously that ויגדל הילד (ibid 10)? The second ויגדל is telling us that Moshe became a Gadol for Klal Yisrael. What is the definition of a גדול? The passuk defines here that a Gadol is one that ויצא אל אחיו he went out to his brothers. He is someone who worries about helping those who are less fortunate and are in need of spiritual or material aid and support. The Ramban explains that the same day that he was told that he was a Yid at twelve years of age, he wasted no time at all and went out to see the afflictions of his brothers with the intention of alleviating them. That same day he killed the Egyptian hitting the Yid even though he was risking his life to do so. Chazal state that Moshe used the שם המפורש to kill him. The Torah reveals the first usage of the שם by this twelve year old lad and it was used towards saving another Yid from a tzarah. This teaches us that Moshe throughout his life used his ruchniyus powers and closeness to Hashem for the benefit of Am Yisrael and not for himself. The second day leaving the palace he once again admonishes a Yid who was about to strike another during an argument and calls him a rasha.
One would think that after receiving shocking news of his true Jewish identity, he would first need some time to plan how to discreetly make a transition from being a Mitzri to a Yid, acclimate himself to a different mind set , learn the new social and religious skills and system, meet his long lost family, take a tour of the different communities in Goshen etc. Not so Moshe. From the first day on, he bonded with his brethren to the point that he did not blink an eye to enter the lion’s den for strangers. And let us not forget he was only twelve years old.
The decree of Bris Bain Habasarim slated a four hundred year bondage for Am Yisrael. Yet they were redeemed 190 years earlier as the Haggadah says חישב את הקץ Hashem reckoned the קץ which is gematriah 190. Moshe was the individual who brought about the early geulah because of his power of uniting Klal Yisrael. For during those first two days that Moshe went out intermingling with his people to see how he could help them, he realized that achdus was lacking (Shmos 2,14 Rashi).עין רע is gematriah 400. As long as they possessed a bad eye towards one’s fellow Yid, Am Yisrael would have to wait out the full term of four hundred years of the decree. This is hinted in the passukויגדל משה which is gematriah 400 with the two words. Moshe understood the problem and he wanted to bring Yisrael to the achdus and thereby shorten the years of bondage from 400. ויגדל are the letters of דילוג which means to skip. Moshe became a Gadol in order to lessen the number of years. ויגדל ויצא אל is gematriah קץ including the word. Because of going out to his brothers he shortened the decree 190 years by infusing them with the feeling of אחיו that each Yid is the brother of the other.
How did he achieve this unity amongst Yisrael? Moshe was equal to the 600,000 Yidden in Mitzrayim (Yalkut Shimoni). Therefore when Chazal tell us .נתן עיניו ולבו להיות מיצר עליהם that Moshe directed his heart and eyes on sharing their anguish, it can also mean in the deeper sense that Moshe “lent” Klal Yisrael his eyes and heart so they too were enabled to see, feel, and bond like him towards every Yid’s tzaros (see Likutei Moharan 98). When the end of this transformation took place, each Yid was able to feel the pain of every other Yid to the point that the pain of every Yid was increased 600,000 times the norm. This allowed them to depart from Mitzrayim earlier than the set four hundred decreed years of affliction, since the achdus that was now created between them, attained 400 years worth of collective affliction in a very short time.
When Hashem appears to Moshe in a burning bush to tell him of his mission as the redeemer of Am Yisrael, He says to him של נעליך מעל רגליך remove your shoes from your feet. The reason why a burning bush was chosen as the vehicle to draw Moshe’s attention to his new calling, was because the thorns that embody the bush symbolize pain. Moshe is chosen to undertake this task because he is the one that went out of his way to actually feel the pain of his people with a fiery and burning passion.
Hashem tells him to remove his נעלים. To walk without shoes is uncomfortable and difficult. Hashem was conveying to Moshe that this is the reason why he was chosen as the redeemer for he left his comfortable situation and placed himself in the trenches to be with his brethren instead. The word נעל is the acronym נתן עיניו לבו להיות עליהם he purposely placed his eyes and heart to be upon them. The one who can truly feel their pain is the one who is their redeemer. It is this ultimate feeling of achdus that delivers the geulah from those who are in the galus. המקום אשר אתה עומד עליו אדמת קודש הוא Your madraiga is truly holy ground.
Since the miraculous event of the freeing of Shalom Rubashkin from his long prison term, there emerged an amazing buzz about a story of how this miracle took place. The story was retold by Alan Dershowitz a noted lawyer who was told by Ivanka Trump. The Wish Foundation which grants wishes to handicapped and terminally ill children came to a young frum boy to ask him what his wish was. The boy responded that he wanted the president of the United States to come visit him because he has a very important request. The staff said they apologized that his wish was beyond their budget and that he should make another one. The boy thought for a moment and then said ok then I want you to deliver my request in a letter to the President’s desk in the White House. They responded with a smile saying we have the connections and we think we could make that happen. The boy wrote the letter and gave it to them. It read Dear Mr. Trump. I believe that your position as president was made by G-d with the mission to help the Jewish People. One wish I want so badly is to free one Jew who is in prison already for eight years and for whom I pray for daily to get freed, Mr. Rubashkin. Thank you so much.
The letter was delivered and was sitting on the president’s desk on the second day of Chanukah. On the eight day of Chanukah Mr. Trump signed for his release from prison. What happened? His daughter was present when he read the letter. She said that he cried and said, Just incredible. Here we offer this young boy any wish he wants. Any celebrity, star, athlete could come to visit him. He can travel to Disneyland or any place in the world. But no, he wishes instead that someone who he is not even related to, should be freed from prison by me. How can I let such a kid down.
If I live my life only for me, then it is only me whom my eye can see. But if I live my life for Thee, then my me becomes free because of a greater we.