(Torah Portion Shemos) Leadership!

Our leader Moshe was raised in a most unusual circumstance. Pharoh’s daughter Basya who had clandestinely dissented from her father’s idolatrous and evil ways, brought up Moshe from infancy until adulthood within the palace of the Pharoh.

Moshe’s own mother, Yocheved, was hired by Basya to nurse him, and she used this time to instill in Moshe the values and traditions of the family of Israel. Basya is the one who named him Moshe. Although he had several other names, G-d addressed him by this name. Our Sages teach us that he was called Moshe because it was associated with an act of kindness of Basya.
Basya eventually joined the Jewish people receiving significant reward for her valiant efforts.

I guess you can call it, “G-d’s sense of humor”. Here is the King of Egypt, who decreed that every newborn Jewish male be cast into the river, yet Moshe, the eventual leader of the Jewish people, is spotted by his own daughter floating in a basket in the river and she saves him and raises him!

The Medrash relates that Pharoh, not knowing that Moshe was Jewish, enjoyed his wisdom and respected his advice. Moshe went out of the comforts of the palace to check up on his fellow Jews, and saw them suffering from fatigue because of their exhaustive enslavement. Moshe approached Pharoh and reasoned with him that it would be beneficial to give the Jews a day off so that they could rejuvenate their strength, for if not, they will die. Pharoh agreed, and gave Moshe the authority to choose a day of rest for the Jewish people.

Moshe chose Saturday, not knowing that upon receiving the Ten Commandments, Shabbos would be the mandatory day of rest for the Jews. Moshe explained to Pharoh that he picked Saturday because he felt that any work done on Saturday will not be blessed because there exists a counterproductive force called Shabtai that influences that day. From then on, the Jews were off from work on the Shabbos. The Shabbos rest gave the Jews an opportunity to reflect, yearn and hope in the tradition they had that they would eventually be freed from misery and slavery.
The Torah relates that Moshe couldn’t contain his passion and concern for his brethren and stood up to defend them. When the Pharoh heard about this, he placed a warrant on Moshe’s life. Moshe was forced to flee from Egypt and he settled in the land of Midyan.

Moshe was absent form Egypt and his family for sixty years! Even though Moshe was on his own for all those years, he remained righteous and devout, earning himself the merit to be appointed by G-d to lead the Jews out of Egypt.

G-d instructed Moshe at the Burning Bush to return to Egypt. Moshe then addressed the Jewish people and they believed in his G-dly mission.

Moshe then instructed Pharoh in the name of G-d to release the Jews. Pharoh responded by forcing the Jews to start working on the Sabbath and intensifying their daily workload. Each one had to produce 400 bricks daily!

Pharoh had Egyptian taskmasters direct a group of Jewish guards to enforce these awful laws.

The Torah tells us that the Jews weren’t able to meet their quota, yet the Jewish guards who were instructed to punish those who did not comply, did not harm their fellow Jews. The guards took the brunt of the punishment from the Egyptian taskmasters on themselves.

Our Sages tell us that the guards, who with kindness and compassion protected their brethren while enduring the suffering themselves, were rewarded after they were freed from Egypt, by receiving prophecy and being inducted in the prestigious seventy member Sanhedrin – Jewish High Court!

This incident shows that when one cares for his fellow, especially when faced with adversity, he is substantially and significantly rewarded for his efforts!

Wishing you a restful, peaceful
and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid and Malki Saks