Parshat Shemot: Access to Power

Joseph Frager, MD‏,

Joseph Frager, MD‏
Joseph Frager, MD‏
Courtesy of Dr. Frager

"Pharaoh's Daughter went down to bathe by the river and her maidens walked along the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and she sent her maidservant and she took it."

The boy grew up and she brought him to the daughter of Pharaoh and he was a son to her. She called his name Moshe, as she said, "for I drew him from the water." (2:10) The daughter of Pharaoh, Batya, saved Moshe's life. The question is why was it necessary for Bnei Yisrael's Redeemer to grow up in the House of Pharaoh? Why was it necessary for the story to be so complicated? Moshe could have been saved by a poor Egyptian. Why did he dafka have to be saved by Pharaoh's daughter? I will now attempt to answer all of these questions.

Although there is a "Mida Kaneged Mida" aspect to the story (Pharaoh wanted to kill all the Jewish boys, so ironically he saved the one boy who would save the Jewish People), the Maharal says the greatest Kedusha is always hidden by a lower form of existence. I have mentioned this concept previously in another form. G-d always wraps his most precious, most Holy treasures with that which is far from holy. I mentioned this concept in trying to analyze why the wicked one Ephron was the owner of the Holy City of Hebron prior to Avraham's purchase. The Maharal says that the nut is always covered by a shell. The fruit is covered by a rind. The lower existence covers the higher existence. The covering hides the inner essence.

Pharaoh's House was the rind covering the fruit. The fruit was Moshe. He was concealed from his ultimate destiny by being embedded in the House of Pharaoh. Even Moshe's name concealed his true identity. The Ben Ish Chai says that although Moshe had seven different names the name Moshe was Egyptian. Why things got worse when Moshe declared himself is not at all unusual in G-d's operating system.Th Kli Yakar has a poignant discussion about this. Suffice it to say that it is always darkest before the dawn. When things get really bad then Good will come.

The Maharal says it is very important to study and know the Geula (Redemption) from Egypt. The Maharal says it is the prototype for the final Redemption. The Gemarah in Sanhedrin (98a) says that "the Moshiach is at the gates in Rome, sitting among the poor, the sick, and wretched." The Gemara is saying that Moshiach (like Moshe) was the last person one would think would be the Redeemer. The Alter Rebbe of Lubavitch, the Baal HaTanya-Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liady said in this vein, "The Moshiach that everyone expects will not come. The Moshiach that will come no one will expect." We will all be in for a big surprise. Rav Zadok HaKohen says that Moshe grew up in the House of Pharaoh because it was "impressive" to the enslaved Jews. His being Prince of Egypt could win the Jews over more readily.

My understanding revolves around "access". Having spent a very long time in the "trenches of activism", I have come to realize that the most important way to help the Jewish People is access. During the Holocaust, despite President Roosevelt having a number of Jews in the administration (the most famous was Henry Morgenthau who was Secretary of the Treasury and the one who tried the hardest to help the Jews of Europe), Orthodox Jewry had very limited access.

The main access was from the Reform Branch headed by Rabbi Stephen Wise who failed the Jews of Europe miserably. On October 6, 1943 two days before Yom Kippur 400 Orthodox Rabbis organized by the Bergson Group marched from Union Station to the Capitol to help save European Jewry.

Had they had access to Roosevelt, there is a good chance many European Jews could have been saved. Access is essential. Moshe had many "friends" in Pharaoh's House. Many had grown up with him. Although he was out of Pharaoh's House for 40 years in exile in Midian, he still was a known figure in Pharaoh's House.

It is possible this is why he was not killed on the spot when he returned to Pharaoh's House uninvited. He had been initially sentenced to Death after killing the Egyptian 40 years before. He was then sent into exile. G-d, Almighty performed numerous miracles for Moshe and this may well have been one of them but he had "access". Perhaps, Rav Zadok intimates this when he says that Moshe was "impressive" to the Jews as Prince of Egypt. Access to be fair does not always guarantee a positive outcome. G-d has to will it.

The timing has to be right. The Abarbanel had major access to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. The Abarbanel was the Secretary of the Treasury. He financed Columbus' discovery of the America. The Abarbanel tried as hard as humanly possible to save Spanish Jewry from the Inquisition. In the end it is in G-d's Hands. Still we must do our share. Shabbat Shalom