Parashat Shemot

By Rabbi Shlomo Zargari:


A famous lecturer came to town to give a series of lectures and accepted the offer of his cousin to host him while he was in town. His cousin and family were warm and welcoming. As he settled in, he and his cousin started talking and the host opened up regarding the tough time they were having with their teenage son who showed no interest in Torah and misvot. He could not understand why this happened! He gave the child very good hinuch (upbringing); he sent him to an excellent school. The rabbi had no answer.

Over Shabbat after kiddush, as everyone was washing their hands for netilat yadayim, the rabbi noticed that the younger son was washing his hands in a manner not at all proper according to halacha; he was barely getting his hands wet and was mumbling the beracha as he was doing so. The rabbi approached him kindly and said, “Let me show you the best way to do this precious misva…” The father came over and interjected, “He’ll be ok… he is young and did not pay attention; it’s fine, when he’ll grow he’ll learn.” The cousin backed off.

At the meal, of course the young boy couldn’t sit for a long meal and was going back and forth from the table. In one of his “ breaks” he pulled on the tablecloth and a glass cup fell to the floor and shattered. Suddenly the father got up and attacked the child verbally, “How many times do I have to tell you to sit like a normal child??? Why don’t you listen? Look what you’ve done!!!” The child stood there shaken and embarrassed.

It was quite awkward, especially for the guest. He wanted to tell his cousin, “He’ll be ok…he is young and didn’t pay attention; it’s fine, when he’ll grow he’ll learn…” But he didn’t think now would be an appropriate time. However, this surely answered the question of why the older brother behaves in such a manner. He understands priorities, what’s important and what isn’t. What’s the difference between netilat yadayim for example and breaking a glass…

In our parasha we are introduced to Moshe Rabenu, the one chosen to save Am Yisrael. How was he chosen for the task of saving, guiding, teaching, feeding and most importantly giving over the Torah? In our parasha we see what upsets Moshe and makes him spring into action. Three stories are told to us back to back: he cannot take it when he sees the Hebrew being beaten for no crime, when one Hebrew is striking his fellow, and when witnessing how shepherds attack the daughters of Yitro.

The saying goes, “Tell me what gets under your skin and I know what you’re about.” This is a great test to get to know ourselves and doesn’t take that long. All we have to do is to see what makes us upset and angry and agitated. What upset us the last three times? The fact that I didn’t pray with proper kavana? I slipped and said something that might have sounded like lashon hara? I missed my shioor? And the list goes on…or was it something trivial like a glass cup that shattered or other similar examples?

Shabbat Shalom