שביבי אש
לסדר שמות

וַתֹּאמֶר מִיַּלְדֵי הָעִבְרִים זֶה וכו'... וַתִּקְרָא שְׁמוֹ מֹשֶׁה וַתֹּאמֶר כִּי מִן הַמַּיִם מְשִׁיתִהוּ

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 indicate that she had drawn him from the water, she ought to have called him "משוי" (one who is drawn), not "מֹשֶׁה" (one who draws).

But it appears to our master that the daughter of Pharaoh was commemorating the miracle that had occurred to her on that day when she took pity on this alien child, saving him from the deadly waters, and resolved to raise him as her own son. So she placed upon him a sign that wold indicate that it was he that was destined to redeem Israel from the bondage of Egypt. Pharaoh's astrologers had already foreseen that on that particular day the redeemer of Israel would be born, but they could not tell if the child would be an Israelite or an Egyptian. That is why, as Rashi explains, Pharaoh commanded his people to cast every son, including Egyptians, that was born on that day into the river, but every daughter was allowed to live (Exodus 1:22). What the astrologers could not see clearly was from which people the future redeemer would be descended. And the reason was that Moses was considered both an Israelite and an Egyptian inasmuch as his natural mother was יוכבד, while the daughter of Pharaoh raised him as her own beloved. Moses was therefore considered to be her son as well, as, indeed, it is written (Exodus 2:10): "and he became her son" (וַיְהִי לָהּ לְבֵן). In the Talmud the Sages deduce from this verse that one who raises an orphan in his house is considered by the Scripture to have given birth to the child. That is why the astrologers were confused and could not tell whether the child destined to become the redeemer would be an Israelite or an Egyptian.

So when the daughter of Pharaoh took the child for herself she unraveled the enigma of why the astrologers had been unable to identify the origin of the child. And that was a sign to her that this was indeed the child destined to redeem Israel from the grip of Egypt. She therefore said, "מִיַּלְדֵי הָעִבְרִים זֶה" (it is from the children of the Hebrews), for what she meant to say was: this child that the astrologers foresaw would be born today and would become the redeemer of Israel is indeed from the children of the Hebrews, but they could not see that, because it is I who shall raise him." And, thinking of the future when he would redeem Israel, she named him "מֹשֶׁה" (one who redeems). But she did not disclose what she was thinking. Instead she said, "Because I drew him out of the water" (וַתֹּאמֶר כִּי מִן הַמַּיִם מְשִׁיתִהוּ). Thus, she only stated that the reason she called him "מֹשֶׁה" was because she drew him out of the water, while hiding her real intent, which was to symbolize his destiny as the redeemer of Israel. She therefore called him "מֹשֶׁה" before giving any reason for his name, which indicates that the stated reason for the name was not the true reason. See also the explanation of our master in פר' ויצא concerning the naming of ראובן, which is also based on the idea that when the stated reason for a name is given after the naming of the child, that reason is not the real reason for the name.

וַיְהִי בַדֶּרֶךְ בַּמָּלוֹן וַיִּפְגְּשֵׁהוּ ה' וַיְבַקֵּשׁ הֲמִיתוֹ

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 אליעזר and because he had been remiss in performing this commandment, he brought upon himself the punishment of death. It was taught in a baraita: R. Yosi said: G-d 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. If, on the other hand, 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, intending to circumcise the child at the first opportunity.] Why, then, was he punished? Because, upon arrival, he busied himself with the lodging place first [before circumcising the child].

This is from the Gemara in Nedarim 32a. Rashi, the Rosh and the Ran all explain there that the lodging place was close to Egypt, so that the child was no longer in any danger. And the gaon of blessed memory (R. Avraham Glasner 1826-78), the father of our master asked a powerful question: how could they say that the lodging place was close to Egypt? Did not Aaron meet Moses at Mount Horeb, the mountain of G-d, as it is written (Exodus 4:27) "and [Aaron] met him at the mountain of G-d" (ויפגשהו בהר האלהים). 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 place at which צפורה circumcised אליעזר must have been close to Mount Horeb since she returned from there to her father's house, and Mount Horeb was close to מדין since Moses came there while he was shepherding the sheep of Jethro.

And our master explains that Hazal said 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, which was where Aaron advised Moses to send צפורה and her sons to her father's house. But if צפורה was returning to Midian, then Moses should have circumcised אליעזר there, because he was near to Jethro's house and there was no danger in circumcising him. But because he busied himself first with the lodging place, he was punished. And this is true and correct. It is also possible that the words of the Rishonim were "סמוך למדין," which the copyists misunderstood and mistakenly rendered as "סמוך למצרים" instead.

וַיֹּאמֶר ה' אֶל מֹשֶׁה עַתָּה תִרְאֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶעֱשֶׂה לְפַרְעֹה כִּי בְיָד חֲזָקָה יְשַׁלְּחֵם וכו'

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 you will see, but you will not see what will be done to the kings of Canaan when I shall bring them to into the Holy Land.

From these words of Rashi it appears that because Moses said (Exodus 5:22) "why hast Thou done evil to this people" (למה הרעותה לעם הזה), it was decreed that he would not enter the Holy Land. But this is a wonder, because the Scripture explicitly states at the incident of the Waters of Strife (מי מריבה) at Qadesh (Numbers 20:12): "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"( יַעַן לֹא הֶאֱמַנְתֶּם בִּי לְהַקְדִּישֵׁנִי לְעֵינֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לָכֵן לֹא תָבִיאוּ אֶת הַקָּהָל הַזֶּה אֶל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נָתַתִּי לָהֶם).

And it appears to our master that Moses's transgression at מי מריבה and his transgression in asking "lamah hareiotah" were alike, because both times Moses offended the honor of 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): "Hear now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you from this rock?" (שִׁמְעוּ נָא הַמֹּרִים הֲמִן הַסֶּלַע הַזֶּה, נוֹצִיא לָכֶם מָיִם) He called them rebels who were unworthy of having such miracles performed for them. Here, too, he transgressed when he said: "לָמָה הֲרֵעֹתָה לָעָם הַזֶּה." The word "עם" signifies that they are on a low level. And he continued: "Why didst Thou ever send me?" (לָמָּה זֶּה שְׁלַחְתָּנִי), just as when he asked earlier (Exodus 3:11): "and that I should bring forth the people of Israel out of Egypt?" (וכי אשיא את בנ"י ממצרים) where Rashi explains that he meant to say: "how have they merited that I should miraculously bring them forth from Egypt?"

Since we see that at the incident of מי מריבה Moses was denied entry into the Holy Land, because he offended the honor of the Chosen People, the question arises why Moses was not punished similarly here and 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 had already accepted the Torah, and had risen to a higher spiritual level, so that Moses grossly exaggerated by calling them rebels. But in Egypt, 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 "now you will see": "Even though now you have 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 and the Right Hand of G-d will work valiantly to overcome the מידת הדין. But you will not see the war against the thirty-one kings of Canaan, because of a similar transgression at מֵי מְרִיבָה. Your transgression of heaping scorn and contempt upon them at that time will be more serious than this transgression, because they will then be better, and on a higher spiritual level, than they are now."