Teaching: On Exodus 2:11, Parashat Shmot
Mesirat Nefesh: The giving of soul
1) Ex. 2:11 And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brothers, and saw their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian smiting a Hebrew, one of his brothers.
2) Moses flees from Pharaoh, and goes to Midian. Moses marries and has a son.
3) Ex. 2:23 The King of Egypt died, the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry for help came up to G*d by reason of the bondage. 24: And G*d heard their groaning, and G*d remembered the covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25: And G*d saw the children of Israel, and G*d knew their affliction.
4) Exodus 3:2 And the angel of the Eternal appeared to Moses in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush, and he saw, and behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was unconsumed. 3: And Moses said, I will turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not consumed. 4: And when the Eternal saw that he turned aside to see, G*d called to him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses and he said “here I am” (hineini).
1) Midrash asks: what means “he saw” in Exodus 2:11? That he saw their suffering and he cried and he said, woe is me, would that I could die instead of them. . .
2) Then: G*d says to Moses, you have put aside (turned aside) your business/your life/your complacency and have shared the suffering of Israel, and have behaved “in the manner of brothers”–so: I will leave the ones on high and the ones below and will speak with you.
3) Thus, in Exodus 3:4 And G*d saw that Moses had turned aside (from his life) to see, so G*d called to Moses from the bush and said, Moses, Moses. . .
1) S.R.H. Before Ex. 2:24-25 (G*d heard their cry. . .and G*d saw”) G*d was not personally involved (hashgacha pratit) with Israel, as it were, but allowed events to take their natural course. So what moves G*d to enter in a personal way with the children of Israel?
2) G*d is moved to act by Moses’ model. Moses, “in the manner of brothers” turns away from his life, from his standard, from his complacency, and does not a great thing, just the right thing.
3) Mesirat nefesh: Moses gives himself away. He turns away from self. He gives himself to the suffering of his brothers. Only then does G*d hear their cry and is moved to act, only then does G*d hear their cry.