Pop Quiz: By what 3 names is Moshe's father-in-law referred to in this perashah?
THE BUCK STOPS HERE
Rabbi Reuven Semah
"Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?" (Shemot 3:11)
Our perashah introduces us to Moshe Rabenu. This man goes down in
history as the greatest man that ever lived. Hashem notifies Moshe that
he has been chosen to lead the Jews out of Egypt. Moshe refuses to take
the job. First, "Who am I?" Hashem answers, "I will be with you."
Next, "They will ask Your Name." Hashem gives him His Name. Next, "They
won't believe you appeared to me." Hashem gives him two signs. Next, "I
am not a smooth speaker." Hashem answers, "I give the power to speak and
to hear. Don't worry!" Next, "Hashem, send who You usually send"
(referring to his brother, Aharon). But now Hashem gets angry. "Don't
worry about Aharon. He is coming to greet you with a happy heart." At
this point the discussion ends. Moshe takes the job and the rest is
Rabbi M. Kamenetzky asks: Why the sudden anger of Hashem? Up until that
point everything was a calm discussion. He tells a story: There was a
large corporation which had poor earnings and poor low-level management.
The board decided to fire its CEO of many years. The new replacement
came to the departing executive, who clearly was a man of wisdom and
experience, for some advice. He told him he can't advise him too much,
but he will give him a gift. He handed him two envelopes, one marked #1
and the other marked #2. He told him, "When a crisis occurs and your job
is on the line, open up envelope #1. If things don't calm down, open
Sure enough, not too much later, a major crisis erupted and his job was
in jeopardy. He locked himself in his office and opened #1. In small
but clear typewritten words it said, "Blame your predecessor." It helped
for a while, and things calmed down. Soon, another more desperate
situation arose, and he saw it was time for #2. He locked himself in his
office and opened #2. It read, "Prepare two envelopes..."!
As long as Moshe Rabenu argued with Hashem citing his own shortcomings,
Hashem answered him patiently. But when he hinted to Hashem to send
Aharon, not offering a shortcoming of his own, but instead, shifting the
responsibility to someone else, that triggered Hashem's anger.
When we are given a job by Hashem to do, that means there is no one more
suited than us. Don't pass the buck to someone else. Shabbat Shalom.
Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
As we begin the book of Shemot, Exodus, we can see right away why this
is called the Book of Redemption, for it talks about the exile into
Egypt, the bondage and servitude under the Egyptians, and the ultimate
redemption thereof. Why, however, are the portions dealing with the
Mishkan, the Tabernacle, placed in the book of Shemot? What do they have
to do with the Redemption?
The Ramban tells us that the redemption was not complete until the Jews
came back to the level of the forefathers, and that was when we had the
Mishkan with the Divine Presence in it. This was a replica of the homes
of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs, who also had the Divine Presence
completely among them and which was manifested by the Clouds of Glory on
their tent, the Eternal Lamp shining inside and the dough constantly
fresh, just like in the Mishkan. This is truly a remarkable statement.
The Mishkan was only a replica of the tents of our forefathers. How
foolish are those who speak against our ancestors as if they were from
our generation, ascribing to them our own faults and frailties, when in
reality they were like angels on this earth. We have no concept of the
holiness and greatness of these individuals and anyone who thinks they
can understand them with our own limited vision is really revealing flaws
in his own character, rather than in those he may be speaking about. As
the Gemara sums it up, if the earlier generations are like angels in our
eyes, then we are compared to human beings, but if we think they are
humans, we are only like donkeys, and not even like the donkey of Rabbi
Pinhas ben Yair! Let us take this lesson of Ramban to heart and realize
how awesome and elevated are our ancestors so that we may learn even the
slightest amount from them. Shabbat Shalom.
WAKE UP CALL
"The Children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly...and the
land became filled with them" (Shemot 1:7)
The Midrash relates that Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi, once while delivering a
lecture, noticed that the congregation had become drowsy. In order to
rouse them he said, "One woman in Egypt brought forth six hundred
thousand children in one birth." A disciple named Rabbi Yishmael son of
Rabbi Yose said to him, "Who can that have been?' He replied, "This was
Yochebed, who bore Moshe, who was counted as equal to six hundred
thousand of Israel."
Is it not audacious for the students to drowse off during their Rabbi's
lecture? Also, why did he use this particular unbelievable story to
The episode related in the Midrash may be a metaphor for a period of
Jewish history. The destruction of the second Bet Hamikdash took place
in the year 3828, and Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi was born approximately 50
years afterwards. He was the leader of the fourth generation after the
destruction. The Roman government oppressed the Jews bitterly, and
unfortunately the Jews were losing hope of the coming of the Mashiah and
the ultimate redemption. Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi noticed that while he as
propagating Torah, the community was "falling asleep," thinking that
there will never, G-d forbid, be a redemption, and that the galut is
In an effort to distract them from such a train of though, he told them
that in Egypt a woman gave birth to 600,000 children. The message to his
generation was, "Do not despair! Our forefathers in Egypt thought they
were doomed to be slaves forever and there was no hope to be redeemed.
Suddenly, Yochebed gave birth to Moshe, who ultimately took out all the
600,000 enslaved Jews from Egypt and brought them to Sinai for the giving
of the Torah - the greatest event in Jewish history. Likewise, never
give up hope. The salvation of G-d is like the wink of an eye - which
can come immediately and unexpectedly." (Vedibarta Bam)
Answer to Pop Quiz: Yitro, Yeter and Re'uel.