Torah Weekly

For the week ending 29 December 2018 / 21 Tevet 5779

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 Shemot (Exodus) chronicles the creation of the nation of Israel from the descendants of Yaakov. At the beginning of this week's Torah portion, 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 be his nursemaid.

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 (Mount 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.


O So Very Humble!

“Moshe replied to G-d, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?’” (3:11)

The Day of Judgment. Millions of eyes turn to the West. Trembling fingers open the envelope of destiny. "Ladies and Gentlemen, the award for the best actor in a leading role is: Fill-in-the-name.”

Every camera in the building zooms in on the carefully-rehearsed “spontaneous” outpouring of emotion of the victor. Rising from his seat, he emotes all the way to the microphone and that little golden idol called Oscar. He ascends the stage. The lights dim. In a voice that drips the sincerity of a leaking faucet, he begins his acceptance speech.

Members of the Academy. Dear friends. I can't tell you what an honor it is to be standing here.

There are so many people that I have to thank. My director. My producer. My cameraman. All the crew who worked so hard on my film.

Yes, there are so many people to whom I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude. But there is one person who deserves special thanks. One person without whom I would not be standing here today. One person, above all, who has been responsible for making me a legend in my own lunchtime. I know he's going to be very embarrassed when I mention his name because not only is he a leading talent, one of the most brilliant people in the industry, but he is also undoubtedly the humblest.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to thank.........Me!

You have no idea what it was like to work with Me. The incredible generosity and inspiration of spending so much time with Me. The unbelievably unselfish way that Me had in every scene we had together. The feeling that I had really formed a lifelong friendship with Me. All I can say is that I can't wait to work again with Me.

They say that this is a dog-eat-dog industry, that you can't trust anybody. But I know that whatever may happen, even if the world turns me down, I can still trust Me.

I know that at this moment Me is probably cringing with embarrassment, but I want you to know that a person can have the best script in the world and the best director in the world and the best editor in the world, but the most important person in the world is Me!

Thank you and remember: I did it my way."

There was a holy Jew who left this world of illusion not so long ago. Once, someone showed him a picture of himself. He looked at the picture and exclaimed, "Who is this holy Jew from whose face shines the awe of Heaven?" He had never looked in a mirror and had no idea what he looked like!

When G-d tells Moses to lead the Jews out of Egypt, Moses replies, "Who am I to go to Pharaoh and to take the Children of Israel out of Egypt?"

Moses' reluctance is puzzling. How could he supplant G‑d's judgment with his own? G-d told him to do something, so why should he fear failure?

Moses understood that G-d wanted him to use his own human powers of persuasion on Pharaoh, and his own charisma to inspire the Jews, not relying on Divine intervention. Moses thought the task was on his shoulders alone, and so he hesitated. He wasn't sure he had the necessary qualifications.

About a hundred years ago in Europe, the Chafetz Chaim dispatched one of his students to serve as rabbi in a large, distant and unlearned community. The potential rabbi balked. "The job is not for me," he said. "I'm afraid I'll make mistakes." The Chafetz Chaim replied, "Should I send someone who's not afraid of making mistakes?"

It's easy to mistake humility for a lack of confidence and low self-esteem. Yet they are very different. Realizing your limitations is the first step to greatness. It's only someone with a lack of self-confidence who believes that he is a legend in his own lunchtime.

· Source: Midrash, Shemot Rabbah 3:5

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