Pop Quiz: What were the names of Moshe's two sons?
by Rabbi Reuven Semah
"Hashem, why have you done evil to this people; why have you sent me?" (Shemot 5:22)
The pasuk just quoted above always seemed shocking. One would expect a harsh reaction from Hashem. Moshe gets rebuffed by Pharaoh at his first try to tell him, "Let my people go." Not only does the Egyptian king refuse but he increases the intensity of the slavery of the Jewish people. Moshe comes back with a stinging statement to the Almighty.
Rabbi Felder, the mashgiah of the Mirer Yeshivah, explains Moshe's reaction. We must go back and study, why was Moshe chosen as the leader? Moshe leaves the palace to help his people; he kills an Egyptian who is whipping a Jew; he defends the daughters of Yitro. These stories point to one important quality. He truly felt the burden of his people as if he himself was being tortured.
After his apparent failure with Pharaoh he comes back to Hashem to voice his protest, that Hashem has increased the suffering of the people. Rashi adds a crucial comment, based on the Midrash: Why did you do this! And if you ask me what do I care, then I will answer you, why did you appoint me the leader in the first place? It's only because I care for them so much. If I didn't feel for them then you wouldn't have chosen me. That's the meaning of the words "lamah zeh shelahtani" - why did you send me? You sent me because I love them. So please, Hashem, I beg of you, do not harm them, because I can bear it no longer. We see how perhaps Moshe's protest was not so shocking. Perhaps it's almost what Hashem loves to hear! Shabbat Shalom.
by 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.
The name of one was Shifrah and the name of the other was Puah" (Shemot 1:15)
Rashi explains - Shifrah, this is Yochebed; she was called so because she made the child beautiful.. Puah, this is Miriam, who was called so because she called aloud and murmured to the child, in the manner of women who pacify an infant that cries.
Rabbi Shmuel Rozovsky notes the Torah's description of the Jewish midwives, Yochebed and Miriam. They had exemplary character traits and achieved a high level of spiritual insight and prophetic vision. Their fear of Hashem was the source of the moral courage necessary to save the Jewish babies. The Torah endows them with these very noble attributes, yet the Torah characterizes and acclaims them for their administering to the basic needs of the Jewish babies. It was their self-sacrifice in providing for the babies in a motherly fashion for which they are praised.
A Jewish mother is the creator, guide and guardian of the Jewish home. To establish a Jewish home is to create and develop a new link in the chain of Jewish existence and tradition. The task of properly raising children, inculcating them with the correct Torah values so that they can become responsible Jewish adults, is a formidable one. Hashem in His infinite wisdom has bestowed this task primarily upon women.
While a Jew ideally learns Torah discipline from his father, the fundamental concepts of Judaism he learns from his mother. A sensitivity to the basic aspects of Jewish belief and practice is imbued to him by his mother. The subsequent flourishing of a youngster's religious life is dependent largely upon this early maternal teaching. Yochebed and Miriam are praised for fulfilling their maternal role of raising Jewish children in the way of Hashem. (Peninim on the Torah)
Answer to pop quiz: Gershom and Eliezer.
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