Friday, January 12, 2007

Parshat Shemoth

Talking Points

What is the connection between this act of Moshe of going out and seeing and something else that he saw later in the Parasha?
How are we to understand the "saw" here and the "saw" later?
What then is the Jewish criteria for leadership?
Who in Jewish history shares this quality and who does not?

Midrash Rabbah - Exodus I:27

Moses was twenty years old at the time; some say forty. '
When Moses was grown up. Does not everyone grow up?
Only to teach you that he was abnormal in his growth.
AND HE WENT OUT UNTO HIS BRETHREN. This righteous man went out on two occasions and God recorded them one after the other. And he went out on the second day these were the two occasions.
AND HE LOOKED ON THEIR BURDENS What is the meaning of AND HE LOOKED? He looked upon their burdens and wept, saying: Woe is me for you; would that I could die for you. There is no labour more strenuous than that of handling clay, and he used to shoulder the burdens and help each one.
R. Eleazar, son of R. Jose the Galilean, said: He saw great burdens put upon small people and light burdens upon big people, and a man's burden upon a woman and a woman's burden upon a man, and the burden which an old man could carry on a youth, and of a youth on an old man. So he left his suite and rearranged their burdens, pretending all the time to be helping Pharaoh. God then said to him: Thou hast put aside thy work and hast gone to share the sorrow of Israel, behaving to them like a brother; well, I will also leave those on high and below and only speak with thee. Hence it is written: And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see 3:4, because God saw that Moses turned aside from his duties to look upon their burdens, He called unto him out of the midst of the bush.