Torah Weekly

For the week ending 25 December 2010 / 17 Tevet 5771

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 Yocheved to fulfill that role. Years 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 to Eretz 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.


Believing Your Own Press Release

“And Moshe grew, and he went out to his brothers.” (2:11)

There once was a Hollywood cowboy who had come from a very ‘un-cowboyish’ background. He was an assistant in a men’s clothing store in the mid-West.

To beef up his image a bit, the studio publicity machine had concocted a new identity for him. They did a quick face-lift on his life story, which now depicted him being discovered in a Wells Fargo telegraph office in a small cowboy town in Arizona.

It happened one day that, at the peak of his fame, the Hollywood cowboy came to that small town. As befitting his fame, he was given a ticker-tape parade down Main Street.

As he was riding on the back of his open limousine, his car passed the Wells Fargo office. He leaned across to his press agent — the very same press agent who had rewritten his past — and said to him without batting an eyelid.

“You see that Wells Fargo station. That’s where I was discovered.”

One of the dangers of fame is that you can start to believe your own press releases.

The Midrash tells us that when Moshe ‘grew’, he grew ‘not like the way of the world’. The way of the world is that when a person grows and becomes celebrated and famous, he forgets — or makes himself forget — his roots, his background and his family. He seems to have a kind of insidious amnesia when it comes to their problems and difficulties.

Moshe grew up in the palace of Pharaoh with an Egyptian gold spoon in his mouth. Nevertheless, he grew up ‘not like way of the world’ — he never forgot the plight of his people. Moshe ‘went out to his brothers’. He went out to discover their problems and the ways he could rescue them from oppression.

  • Source: Based on Yalkut HaDrush in Iturei Torah

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