Parshas Shemos:
 By: Yaacov Silverstein
e@mail: hm16@popeye.cc.biu.ac.il
HomePage: http://faculty.biu.ac.il/~hm16/

Parshas Shemos:

Pasuk (2:11):

"And it was during those days, and Moshe grew up, and he went out amongst his brothers, and he saw (felt) their troubles..."

First of all, it is said in the name of the Kotzker, that one is required to try and understand the Parsha of Yetzias Mitzrayim. One is to try and understand this, just like one try's hard to understand the Pshat in the Gemarah that one is learning.

The Sefer Sifsei Tzadik explains the reasoning behind this.

For the Galus in Mitzrayim is the root of all the Galuyos in the future, that came and will come upon Am Yisroel. The same with the actual redemption of the Galus in Mitzrayim, this too is the root of the redemption of all the Galuyos in the future. These Parshiyos have the key to redeeming ones soul and the redeeming of all of Am Yisroel, that we are waiting for every day.(Sefer Lehavin u'LeHaskil)

Sympathy or Empathy?


We find that at times we may empathize with a person who is in distress.

We may actually think that we are indeed empathetic yet we are at times only tricking ourselves.

One may even tell himself at times that if he was able to help that person in trouble, he would definitely do it as much as possible.

Rabbi A. Twerski brings down this idea and quotes Rav Yeruchum Levovitz, that this feeling that one may have is usually only a superficial feeling. For it yields little and can be very misleading.

On this Pasuk, Rashi explains that Moshe put his heart and eyes to see their troubles. Moshe put his entire being into understanding the depths of their troubles, for to him, their suffering was of vital importance.

Moshe even went so far as to actually join them in their hard work, as the Midrash says, in order to feel their plight.

For being able to see ones troubles and feeling sympathy for that person, is not true empathy, yet to see it and feel it in ones self, that is empathy.

One may naturally wish to isolate oneself from others sufferings.

Yet this is not what the Torah expects from us. We are commanded to look into the depth of ones suffering and to feel along with those who are suffering.

Sympathy for others may bring us to do something that would relieve our conscience, while feeling empathy for others suffering, brings us to dedicate ourselves more completely to the others plight. (Rabbi A. Twerski)

A true shepherd:


Why was Moshe chosen by Hashem to lead the Bnei Yisroel?

Our Sages tell us that Hashem assessed two of our great leaders through the way they cared for their flock of sheep. Both David and Moshe.

At first glance it may seem a bit strange to us why they were evaluated according to the way they treated their flock, yet it is Davkah those little things that we may consider to be insignificant actions, that come and reveal a persons real inner character.

As Rabbi Michel Berenbaum writes, Moshe had the trait of "Nosei B' Ohl", he possessed the trait of "sharing another's burden".

If we change around these letters, it can also spell, "Sonei Aveil", one who "hates injustice".

We also know from our Sages that "Whoever prays on behalf of his friend, he will be answered first". One should try to be more sensitive to others needs, and feel their troubles - Hashem will then reward us with answering our prayers first. (Rav Michel Barenbaum)

Rabbi Pliskin writes that one is to work on himself and develop this great trait of empathy, sensitivity for the suffering of others. One should make a great effort to "see" people. There are people who do a "great" job in "seeing" the faults of others, yet one should rather use his sight to "see" the suffering of others.

When one is focused on helping others, it prevents him from seeing the negative of another, and it can lead to many acts of kindness.

We must copy this trait of Moshe.

I first have to ask...


We know that Moshe did not readily accept the leadership, and when he finally accepted it, he went to ask his father-in-law permission first, before he left.

The Midrash comes and explains that he first asked his father-in-law Yisro, for Moshe felt Hakaras Ha Tov for Yisro.

Yisro opened his house to Moshe, thus Moshe felt that he couldn't leave without asking Yisro's permission first.

From where did Moshe know this requirement, to an extent, that it pushed off the redemption of a whole nation?

Comes Rav Ayzik Sher and explains that Moshe learned this from Hashem.

When Moshe was sent to take the Bnei Yisroel out of Egypt, Hashem told him to first ask permission from Pharaoh.

Hashem could take the Bnei Yisroel out of Egypt, even against Pharos will, yet here Moshe first was required to get Pharos permission, for 210 years ago, Pharaoh allowed the Bnei Yisroel to come to Egypt, and to live on the best of the land of Egypt.

Our Parsha is full of cases of Hakaras Ha Tov, I would like to bring down a couple of them.

The Egyptian, "Moshe":


When Moshe ran away from Egypt after killing the Egyptian who was beating up a fellow Jew, he came to a well and found Yisro's daughters there and saved them from the other shepherds.

They then went to Yisro and told him that "An Egyptian came and saved us".

Why did they say an Egyptian, why not Ivri?

For Yisro's daughters thanked Moshe for saving them from the hands of the shepherds and Moshe said, don't thank me, thank the Egyptian, that forced me to flee Egypt. Thus the daughters told their father that an Egyptian saved them.

Rav Chaim Shmulevitz comes and says from here we can see how great a Midah it is to have Hakaras Ha Tov, even for a wicked Egyptian, for he brought about Yisro's daughters being saved through Moshe Rabbeinu.

From here we see that if one does a favor for another, even if he didn't intend to do the favor, one is still required to show Hakaras Ha Tov.

Again we find by Pharaoh's daughter, she gave Moshe his name. Moshe had other names, yet this is the name that stayed with him. Why?

For she did an act of Chesed, this shows the greatness of an act of Chesed.



One must be grateful to those who have helped him/her in a major way, and even to those who have helped you out in only a slight way.

One is too express his gratitude in words and also in deeds.

More than just words, one is to feel an inner sense of awareness for how this person has benefited him/her.

At times it may be hard for a person to feel gratitude, for it takes some amount of humility for one to acknowledge that one actually needed another's help.

One needs humility to acknowledge his diminished independence and self-sufficiency. It also takes humility to acknowledge one's indebtedness to another person.(Rabbbi Pliskin)

This is what makes Hakaras Ha Tov, a thing of value.

In truth, one should feel forever indebted to every person who has ever shown one a kindness, regardless of whether that person had ulterior motives in doing so.

We must make a greater effort to notice, even those small things, that people do for us in our every day life, and to feel immense gratitude towards them.

By increasing our gratitude for others, it will bring us to a greater understanding of gratitude to Hashem, and bring us closer to our true redemption.



"Hanifrad Mei'Chaveiro, Yeiahmeir Lo, Lech "L'Shalom", Veh-Hamalveih Eis Ha-Meis Yeiahmeir Lo, Lech "B'Shalom". (M.B. 110:17)

When someone leaves his friend he should tell him "Lech L'Shalom", yet when one parts from the dead, he is to say, "Lech B'Shalom".

This is based on the Meimra of Rav Avin, which is found at the end of Gemarah Berochos.

One should say to his friend "Lech L'Shalom", like Yisro told Moshe, and Moshe was successful.

One should not say to his friend "Lech B'Shalom", like David said to Avshalom, for he went, and was hung.

However, when one leaves the dead, he is to say "Lech B'Shalom" for it says in Bereisheis(15:15), "Vehatah Tavo El Avoseicha B'Shalom".

The Ein-Yakov explains this concept by saying that one who is alive is blessed that he should find Shalom where he is heading to, for he still has the ability to reach peace.

While a dead person, who has already reached his peace, he has no more ability to reach peace, thus the term "B'Shalom" is used.