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לימוד תורה

Greatness and redemption

The Parasha in our everyday life – Parashat Shmot 5782

Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald - Rosh Yeshivat Hesder 'Meir Harel' Modi'in

Who does not want greatness! One that is meaningful and heralds a special message to the world. Each in a field that is close to his heart. And not as condescension over others. And there are even many who, to reach greatness, are willing to pay for their effort, concessions and hardships. Many want society to recognize their greatness and know how to give them the respect they deserve.

What is considered greatness? Is it just what people consider? Or is there a real greatness that has a self-value even when others do not appreciate it?

If greatness is reduced to a slim realm in life while in other realms there is smallness and pettiness. Is it really greatness?

The spiritual aspiration for greatness is an outcome of the creation of man, the crown of creation in the image of G-d. Therefore, he deserves greatness and greatness of mind.

Every person has goals, challenges and hardships that he would like to solve. He would like to have the privilege of being redeemed from them and to have success, serenity and happiness. When a person reaches true greatness and success he gains his personal redemption.

The same occurs with the nation. The people of Israel have an aspiration for meaningful greatness, with self-worth and not as arrogance towards others. The people of Israel strive to preach a special message to the world. It is a demanding and obliging greatness, not dominant and privileged. And when the nation is in exile and enslavement and cannot reach this, it longs to be redeemed.

Not in vain was Moshe chosen to be the savior of the people of Israel and the designer of this aspiration for true greatness. Of the nation and of its individuals.  Moshe Rabbeinu's biography is related to his personal growth. And because of this personal growth he was found worthy to be the Redeemer of the people of Israel.

The scripture describes the stages of Moshe's personal development, and the re-creation of his connection and affinity to the people of Israel:

וַיִּגְדַּ֣ל הַיֶּ֗לֶד וַתְּבִאֵ֙הוּ֙ לְבַת־פַּרְעֹ֔ה וַֽיְהִי־לָ֖הּ לְבֵ֑ן וַתִּקְרָ֤א שְׁמוֹ֙ מֹשֶׁ֔ה וַתֹּ֕אמֶר כִּ֥י מִן־הַמַּ֖יִם מְשִׁיתִֽהוּ׃ וַיְהִ֣י ׀ בַּיָּמִ֣ים הָהֵ֗ם וַיִּגְדַּ֤ל מֹשֶׁה֙ וַיֵּצֵ֣א אֶל־אֶחָ֔יו וַיַּ֖רְא בְּסִבְלֹתָ֑ם וַיַּרְא֙ אִ֣ישׁ מִצְרִ֔י מַכֶּ֥ה אִישׁ־עִבְרִ֖י מֵאֶחָֽיו׃ וַיִּ֤פֶן כֹּה֙ וָכֹ֔ה וַיַּ֖רְא כִּ֣י אֵ֣ין אִ֑ישׁ וַיַּךְ֙ אֶת־הַמִּצְרִ֔י וַֽיִּטְמְנֵ֖הוּ בַּחֽוֹל׃

"When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, who made him her son. She named him Moshe, explaining, “I drew him out of the water.”

Sometime after that, when Moshe had grown up, he went out to his kinsfolk and witnessed their labors. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his kinsmen. He turned this way and that and, seeing no one about, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.” (Shmot 2:10-12)

Moshe grew up in Pharaoh's house as an Egyptian prince:

ויהי בהיות הילד בבית המלך בבגדי ארגמן לבושו ויגדל בקרב בני המלך. ויהי מקצה שנים חמש עשרה לבוא בית המלך היא שנת שמונה עשרה ליום הולדו ויתאו הילד אל אביו ואל אמו וילך אליהם

And while the child is in the king's house, he shall be clothed in scarlet, and shall grow up among the king's children. And at the end of the fifteenth year, since he came to the king's house, which is the eighteenth year since his birth, the child went to his father and mother. (Yalkut Shimoni on Torah 166:11)

The emphasis on growth (which is mentioned twice) raises the question of the Midrash, why is it necessary to state this:

וַיִּגְדַּל משֶׁה, וְכִי אֵין הַכֹּל גְּדֵלִים, אֶלָּא לוֹמַר לָךְ שֶׁהָיָה גָדֵל שֶׁלֹא כְּדֶרֶךְ כָּל הָעוֹלָם.

"When Moshe was grown up" - and does not everyone grow up? Rather, this tells you that he grew up [in a manner] unlike the whole world.”  (Shmot Rabbah 1:27).

However, in this double growth, there is also a great deal of power:

ויגדל משה. וַהֲלֹא כְּבָר כָּתַב וַיִּגְדַּל הַיֶּלֶד? אָמַר רַבִּי יְהוּדָה בְּרַבִּי אִלְעַאי, הָרִאשׁוֹן לְקוֹמָה וְהַשֵּׁנִי לִגְדֻלָּה, שֶׁמִּנָּהוּ פַּרְעֹה עַל בֵּיתוֹ

"And Moshe was grown- But has it not already been written, “And the child grew”? Rabbi Judah the son of Eloai said: the first time it refers to growth in stature, the second time to greatness, that Pharaoh appointed him to have charge over his palace” (Rashi ibid)

That is, at the same time he grew up, his greatness started to grow as well.  He was appointed to a high position in Egypt, to be in charge of the royal house. There is a connection between his 'growth' and his 'greatness'. Not to be taken for granted; that a person in such a position should seek a connection to his origin, to an enslaved nation considered inferior and lacking in rights.

ויגדל משה ויצא אל אחיו, יספר מצדקת משה ואיך מנעוריו היו בו כל המעלות שבעבורם זכה לכל הכבוד הזה, שהגם שגדל בבית מלך וישראל היו אז בתכלית השפלות לא הסתיר פניו מהם ויצא אליהם מצד שהם אחיו, הפך מטבע האנשים שבעלותם לגדולה יתרחקו מאחיהם העניים והאביונים, זאת שנית שראה בסבלותם היינו שהביט ע"ז בעין חמלה ולבו עליו דוי, זאת שלישית שראה איש מצרי מכה איש עברי מאחיו, שהגם שגדל בין המצריים ומתערב עמהם היו כזרים בעיניו, והאיש העברי המוכה הרגיש בצרתו מצד שהוא אחיו עצמו ובשרו, ועל המכה חרה אפו מצד שהוא מצרי נבזה ושפל בעיניו. ובזה עטה כמעיל קנאה על הכותו את אחיו החשוב בעיניו: (מלבי"ם שמות ב יא).

“And Moshe grew up- and went out to his brothers, I will number the righteousness of Moshe and how from his youth he had all the virtues for which he received all this honor, that even though he grew up in a king's house and Israel were then in a point of humiliation did not hide his face from them and went out to them as a brother, even if the nature of the people who own greatness is to distance themselves from their poor and needy brethren, secondly, he saw their suffering, with an eye of compassion and his heart was dim, thirdly, he saw an Egyptian man beating a Hebrew man from his brothers, that even though he grew up among the Egyptians and interfered with them they were strangers to him, and felt in his trouble of the beaten Hebrew man, he was his own brother and his flesh, and on the blow the anger was kindled as he was a despised Egyptian in his eyes. The beating of his brother, was important to him” (Malbim Shmot 2:11)

It is precisely from this that we learn about his greatness. He was able to ascend and see the sorrow and the request for redemption of his people. And so, he became their savior:

אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אַתָּה הִנַּחְתָּ עֲסָקֶיךָ וְהָלַכְתָּ לִרְאוֹת בְּצַעֲרָן שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְנָהַגְתָּ בָּהֶן מִנְהַג אַחִים, אֲנִי מַנִּיחַ אֶת הָעֶלְיוֹנִים וְאֶת הַתַּחְתּוֹנִים, וַאֲדַבֵּר עִמְּךָ

"The Holy One Blessed is He said: You left aside your business and went to see the sorrow of Israel, and acted toward them as brothers act. I will leave aside the upper and the lower [i.e., ignore the distinction between Heaven and Earth] and talk to you." (Shmot Rabbah ibid).

Hence the connection for generations between greatness and redemption.

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