April 21, 2018 |

My Weekly Drash -- (a mini D'Var Torah) -- Shmot (3)


As we begin Parshah Sh'mot, we discover how after many generations beyond Joseph things have gotten bad for the Israelites, to the point where the new Pharaoh has ordered the murder of newborn male children. The Israelites need someone who, with God's help, will free them from slavery and lead them to the Promised Land. That person, as we know, is Moses. When his story begins in the second chapter, it's incredible how his origins are presented without a trace of foreshadowing of future greatness. Instead we read, "A certain man of the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman." (Exo. 2:1) We won't even learn their names until chapter 6. This is the equivalent of naming the hero of a movie "John Doe." (When Frank Capra did it, in the 1941 Gary Cooper movie "Meet John Doe," he was being ironic.) While there are many Midrashim about Moses's early years, there is a basic lesson here: greatness can come from anywhere. Abraham is the son of an idol maker. Moses is the son of slaves. David and Solomon are the descendents of a Jew by choice. Yicchus (family status) is nice but you never know. Better to treat each person as someone destined to accomplish great things rather than be overly impressed by family connections.

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Daniel M. Kimmel

Joined: October 2, 2007

Daniel M. Kimmel is a Boston area film critic, lecturer and author. He does these weekly mini-lessons for the Mishkan Tefila Brotherhood's newsletter. You are free to use them for similar purposes.

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