Friday, March 23, 2007

The Life of a "Moshe" Never Ends

Rabino Yissocher Frand

The opening pasuk [verse] of Sefer Vayikra says: "He called to Moshe andHashem spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting Saying" [Vayikra 1:1]. TheMedrash says that Moshe had ten different names (including Yered, Avigdor,Yekusiel, Chaver, Tuvya, and others). The Medrash quotes Hashem as saying,despite the fact that Moshe had many names, He would only address him bythe name given to him by Basya, daughter of Pharaoh, as it is written "Shecalled his name Moshe, and she said 'for I drew him from the water.'"[Shmos 1:10]

The Shemen HaTov asks why the Medrash makes this observation now. This isnot the first place in the Torah that G-d addresses Moshe. At their firstencounter by the Burning Bush, Hashem already used the name: "...and G-dcalled out to him from amid the bush and said, 'Moshe, Moshe' and hereplied 'Here I am.'" [Shmos 3:4]

The Shemen HaTov answers his question by quoting a Seforno. The Sefornopoints out that technically, Moshe Rabbeinu's name should not have beenMoshe. Grammatically speaking, according to what Pharaoh's daughter wastrying to commemorate, his name should have been Mashuee [the one who wasdrawn out]. The meaning of the word Moshe (if we are to interpret it basedon its verb origins) is the one who draws OTHERS out!

The Seforno infers that the Torah is sending a message: Since Moshe wassaved from the water, he had a moral obligation to draw others out as well-– to be a Moshe! Basya called him Moshe as a mandate to him to saveothers. This is indeed what he did. He could have lived in the lap ofluxury in the house of Pharaoh, but he went out and saved his brethren.Why? "Because my name is Moshe. I am one who has to save others as well."

The Shemen HaTov elaborates: At this point, Moshe might have thought thathe already fulfilled his life's mission. He took the Jews out of Egypt. Hebrought them across the Red Sea. He endured the Sin of the Golden Calf,saving them from G-d's wrath at that time. He completed the erection ofthe Mishkan. He might have argued, "I have done enough!" One would thinkthat at the beginning of Parshas Vayikra, Moshe Rabbeinu could alreadyrest on his laurels and take a breather.

That is why it is precisely at this point that the Medrash comments: "No.The career of a 'Moshe' never ends." If a person is a "Mashuee" [one savedmiraculously from destruction], he must transform himself into a "Moshe"and he must indeed remain a "Moshe" for the rest of his life.