סדר שמות

ותאמר מילדי העברים זה . . . ותקרא שמו משה ותאמר כי מן המים משיתיהו  

And she said: “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.. . . And she named him Moses, for she said, Because I drew him out of the water.”

Exodus 2:6, 10

Many have asked why the daughter of Pharoah called the child “משה” if the name was meant to signify that she drew him from the water, she ought to have named him “משוי” (one who is drawn), not “משה” (one who draws).

But our master explains that the daughter of Pharaoh was commemorating the miracle that occurred to her on the day on which she took pity on this alien child, saving him from the deadly waters, resolving to raise him as her own son, giving him a name signifying his destiny to redeem Israel from Egyptian bondage. In fact, Pharaoh’s astrologers had foreseen that on this particular day the redeemer of Israel would be born, but they could not discern whether the child would be an Israelite or an Egyptian. That is why, as Rashi explains, Pharaoh commanded his people to cast every newborn boy — even the Egyptians — born that day into the river, while newborn girls were allowed to live (Exodus 1:22). What was unclear to the astrologers was the nationality of the redeemer, which was because Moses was considered both an Israelite and an Egyptian — being raised by Pharaoh’s daughter as her own beloved son while his natural mother was Jochebed. Moses was therefore considered the son of both Jochebed and Pharaoh’s daughter, as, indeed, it is written (Exodus 2:10): “ויהי לה לבן” (and he became her son). The Sages of the Talmud deduce from this verse that one who raises an orphan in his house is viewed by the Scripture as the child’s parent. That is why the astrologers were confused and could not identify the redeemer as Israelite or Egyptian.

So in taking the child for herself, Pharaoh’s daughter unraveled the enigma of why the astrologers could not identify the child’s origin. And that was a sign to her that this was indeed the child destined to redeem Israel from the grip of Egypt. That is why she said: “מילדי העברים זה (This is one of the Hebrew children), by which she meant to say:  “this child that the astrologers foresaw would be born today, destined to become the redeemer of Israel, is indeed a Hebrew child.” But they could not foresee that he would be a Hebrew child, because he will be raised by me.”

Thinking of the future when he would redeem Israel, she named him “משה” (one who redeems), but disguised her real reasoning. Instead, she said: “ותאמר כי מן המים משיתיהו” (because I drew him out of the water). Thus, in saying that she called him משה because she drew him out of the water, she was hiding her real intent to acknowledge his destiny as the redeemer of Israel. In calling him משה before giving any reason for that name, she indicated that the stated reason was not the true reason for the name. See also the explanation of our master in סדר ויצא concerning the naming of ראובן, which is also based on the idea that when the reason for a name is stated after the naming of the child, the stated reason is not the true reason for the name. (שביבי אש)

ויהי בדרך במלון ויפגשהו ה’ ויבקש להמיתו  

And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the Lord met him, and sought to kill him

Exodus 4:24

Rashi comments:

Because he had not circumcised his son Eliezer, and because he was remiss in performing this commandment, he brought the punishment of death upon himself. It was taught in a baraita: R. Yosi said: God forbid that this was so. Moses was not remiss, but he thought, “If I circumcise him and immediately proceed on the journey, the child’s life will be in danger for three days. Alternatively, if I circumcise him, and wait three days, the Holy One Blessed Be He has commanded me to return to Egypt. [Consequently, he obeyed the commandment to return to Egypt, intending to circumcise the child at the first opportunity.] Why, then, was he punished? Because, upon arriving at the inn, he busied himself with the lodging, [before circumcising the child].

This is from the Gemara in Nedarim 32a. Rashi, the Rosh and the Ran all explain that the lodging was close to Egypt, so that the child was no longer in any danger. And the gaon of blessed memory (R. Avraham Glasner 1826-77), the father of our master, asked a powerful question: how could they say that the lodging was close to Egypt? Did not Aaron meet Moses at Mount Horeb, the mountain of God, as it is written (Exodus 4:27) “ויפגשהו בהר האלוקים” (and [Aaron] met him at the mountain of God). And Aaron said to him: “we have cause to grieve over the Israelites that are already here, and you propose to add to their number? (See Rashi Exodus 18:2). If so, the lodging at which Tziporah circumcised Eliezer must have been near Mount Horeb, inasmuch as Tziporah returned from there to her father’s house, Mount Horeb being close to Midian, which was where Moses had been tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro. This truly is a powerful question.

And our master explains that Hazal say that at the very moment that Moses was told to return to Egypt, Aaron was told to go to meet Moses. So, when Moses went to Egypt from Midian via Mount Horeb, they were reunited in peace at that place, where Aaron advised Moses to send Tziporah and her sons back to her father’s house. But if, in fact, Tziporah was returning to Midian, then Moses must have circumcised Eliezer there, because, being near to Jethro’s house, there would be no danger in circumcising him. However, he busied himself first with the lodging, which is why he was punished.  And this is true and correct.  And it may be that the words of the Rishonim were “סמוך למדין”, which the copyists misunderstood, mistakenly rendering them as “סמוך למצרים”. ( s שביבי אש)

ויאמר ה’ אל משה עתה תראה אשר אעשה לפרעה כי ביד חזקה ישלחם וביד חזקה יגרשם

And the Lord said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, yea, with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land”

Exodus 6:1

Rashi comments:

“Now you will see” — what will be done to Pharaoh now, is what you will see, but what will be done to the kings of Canaan when I shall bring them into the Holy Land, that you will not see.

From these words of Rashi, it appears that the decree that Moses would not enter the Holy Land was rendered because Moses said (Exodus 5:22) “למה הרעותך לעם הזה?” (why hast Thou done evil to this people?). But this is incredible, because the Scripture explicitly states at the incident of the Waters of Strife (מי מריבה) at Qadesh (Numbers 20:12): “יען לא האמנתם בי להקדישני בעיני בני ישראל לכן לא תביאו את הקהל הזה אל הארץ אשר נתתי להם” (Because you did not believe in Me, to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them).

And our master explains that Moses’s transgression at מי מריבה and his transgression in asking “why hast Thou done evil to this people?” were similar, because both times Moses dishonored the Children of Israel by suggesting that they were unworthy of having miracles performed in their behalf. At the incident of מי מריבה, he said to them (Numbers 20:10): “שמעו נא המורים המן הסלע הזה נוציא לכם מים” (Hear now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you from this rock?), he called them rebels, unworthy of having such miracles performed for them. Here, too, he transgressed when he said: “למה הרעותה לעם הזה” (why hast Thou done evil to this people), the word “עם” implying that the Israelites were on a low level. Moses continued: “למה זה שלחתני” (Why didst Thou ever send me?), just as when he had asked earlier (Exodus 3:11): “וכי אוציא את בני ישראל ממצרים” (and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?), Rashi explaining that Moses meant to say: “how have they merited that I take them miraculously out of Egypt?”

Since we see that Moses was denied entry into the Holy Land after the incident of מי מריבה, because he offended the honor of the Chosen People, the question arises why was Moses not punished similarly here and not denied the opportunity of seeing the Exodus from Egypt? However, there is, in truth, a great difference between the two transgressions. For when Moses said to them: “Hear now, you rebels,” Israel having already accepted the Torah, had risen to a high spiritual level, so that Moses grossly exaggerated by calling them rebels. In Egypt, however, Israel was still on a low spiritual level, as the Sages say in the Midrash, even the angels of service protested: how are these (the Israelites) different from these (the Egyptians)? They are all idolaters. Moses’s transgression in Egypt was therefore not as severe as his transgression at the incident of מי מריבה. Here, then, is the meaning of the words “עתה תראה” (now you will see): Even though you have now committed a transgression like the one that will cause you to be denied the opportunity to see the Holy Land, and, therefore, in justice, you ought now to be denied the opportunity to see the Exodus from Egypt, nevertheless, this time you will be allowed to see the Exodus. And the Scripture continues and explains the reason: “for with a strong hand he will send them out, yea, by a strong hand he shall drive them out of his land.” In other words: “the people of Israel really are not worthy of redemption, and under the Divine attribute of Justice (מידת הדין) they would be condemned, so that only with a strong hand will I be able to take them out, the Right Hand of God working valiantly to overcome the מידת הדין (the attribute of strict justice). But you will not see the war against the thirty-one kings of Canaan, because of a similar transgression at מי מריבה. Your transgression of heaping scorn and contempt upon them at that time will be more serious than this transgression, because they will then be more worthy, and on a higher spiritual level, than they are now. (שביבי אש)

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