Torah Weekly

For the week ending 9 January 2010 / 22 Tevet 5770

Parshat Shmot

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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With the death of Yosef, the Book of Bereishet (Genesis) comes to an end. The Book of Shmot (Exodus) chronicles the creation of the nation of Israel from the descendants of Yaakov. At the beginning of this week's Parsha, Pharaoh, fearing the population explosion of Jews, enslaves them. However, when their birthrate increases, he orders the Jewish midwives to kill all newborn males. Yocheved gives birth to Moshe and hides him in the reeds by the Nile. Pharaoh's daughter finds and adopts him, although she knows he is probably a Hebrew. Miriam, Moshe's sister, offers to find a nursemaid for Moshe and arranges for his mother Yochevedto fulfill that roleYears later, Moshe witnesses an Egyptian beating a Hebrew and Moshe kills the Egyptian. Realizing his life is in danger, Moshe flees to Midian where he rescues Tzipporah, whose father Yitro approves their subsequent marriage. On Chorev (Mt. Sinai) Moshe witnesses the burning bush where G-d commands him to lead the Jewish People from Egypt toEretz Yisrael, the land promised to their ancestors. Moshe protests that the Jewish People will doubt his being G-d’s agent, so G-d enables Moshe to perform three miraculous transformations to validate himself in the people's eyes: transforming his staff into a snake, his healthy hand into a leprous one, and water into blood. When Moshe declares that he is not a good public speaker, G-d tells him that his brother Aharon will be his spokesman. Aharon greets Moshe on his return to Egypt and they petition Pharaoh to release the Jews. Pharaoh responds with even harsher decrees, declaring that the Jews must produce the same quota of bricks as before but without being given supplies. The people become dispirited, but G-d assures Moshe that He will force Pharaoh to let the Jews leave.


Getting Smaller

“…Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?” (3:11)

It was David's first flight in an aircraft. He could hardly contain his excitement. For although many times during his five tender years of life he had gazed skywards at airplanes soaring into the blue, he had never actually made a journey in one of these wondrous flying machines.

Even though the thrill of the takeoff was extremely exhilarating, the moment David was waiting for had not yet arrived. Expectantly he sat in his seat. He waited for ten minutes, for twenty minutes. It didn't happen.

After half an hour he couldn't wait any longer and so he turned to his father and said, "Daddy? When do we get small?"

When you look up at an airplane in the sky it looks like a little toy, so small and insignificant, even though it is immensely powerful.

From the Jewish point of view, few things are more flawed in a person's character than conceit. The secular world, however, preaches the reverse. If you've got it — flaunt it.

The contorted face of jubilation when someone scores the winning goal, dropping to his knees, or punching the air with a victory salute (always reminded me of the Third Reich), or showering the crowd with a bottle of Pernod-Ricard Perrier-Jouet after winning the Le Mans Grand Prix; the Grecian world of sport and performance loves the winner – and the winner loves himself.

The Torah tells us that G-d chose Moshe because he was the most humble of all men (Vayikra 12:3). In this week's Torah portion, Moshe tries repeatedly to persuade G-d that he is unworthy of the task of taking the Jewish People out of Egypt.

The Chafetz Chaim once selected one of his Torah scholars to be the Rabbi in a certain remote town. This fellow said to the Chafetz Chaim he didn't believe himself to be adequate for the job. The Chafetz Chaim asked him if it would be better to send someone who was convinced that he was adequate for the job.

G-d loves humble people and he hates bigheads.

Maybe David's question is something we should all keep in mind, "When do we get small?"

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