Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Shemos

The following is a brief summary of a thought said over by R' Frand in his shiur this evening. I have attempted to reproduce this vort to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistencies are the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

In Shemos 2:11, the Torah recites that Moshe grew up and went out and saw that the Jews were suffering as slaves in Egypt ("Vaya'ar BiSivlosam"). The Midrash asks what was it that Moshe saw? He saw that the Jews were working as slaves seven days a week. He went to his stepfather and said - if you make them work seven days a week you will kill them - slaves need one day off per week. The Midrash relates that Pharaoh agreed with Moshe and gave the Jews one day off per week which they chose to be Shabbos so that they could keep the Shabbos as a holy day.

R' Frand then brought the Sefer Ikvei Erev which asks - why would Pharaoh care about the Jews? Didn't Pharaoh want to kill them? After all, Pharaoh had previously said that he wanted to have all the male Jewish children thrown into the river so that there would be no more future Jews. So why did he listen to Moshe's suggestion?

The Ikvei Erev answered that originally, Pharaoh did want to kill all the Jews. However, he came to realize that he had a great resource - free labor. Pharaoh became spoiled by the magnificent cities and pyramids which were built by the Jews and became less inclined to finish them off. Moshe sensed that Pharaoh's desire for money was greater than his desire to kill the Jews and he seized upon this as a way to save his brethren.

R' Frand then noted that besides saying something Pharaoh, the vort also demonstrated how (prior to Moshe running away) Moshe had a great influence on his stepfather. However, this influence was short lived, as soon after Moshe saw the Egyptian striking a Jew. The Torah relates at 2:12 that Moshe saw that there was no "Ish" (man) , so he killed the Egyptian.

The Alter M'Novordok asks - why didn't Moshe balance in his mind whether it was worth it to kill the Egyptian. After all, Moshe had Pharaoh's ear and he had the ability to influence Pharaoh to the Jews betterment. Wasn't this more valuable than saving the life of one Jew if that meant that Moshe would lose his position of influence?

The Alter answers that Moshe saw that there was no "Ish" that no Jew was willing to be a man and stand up for a fellow Jew against an oppressor who was beating him. Moshe said to himself - the Jews will never be able to leave galus if they don't stand up for each other. Therefore, I will stand up for this Jew and act as role model, even if I lose my position of influence in the palace.

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