by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek
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Parashas Sh'mos (73)And it was in those days and Moses grew up and went out to his brothers and he saw (in) their suffering and he saw an Egyptian man smite a Hebrew man, one of his brothers.
And he saw (in) their suffering: Rashi: He gave his eyes and his heart to be distressed about them.
A Question: The verse clearly says that Moses saw their suffering, why has Rashi added that Moses also identified with their suffering?
What is bothering Rashi?
An Answer: The Hebrew says: He saw "B'sivlosam." The addition of the "Bet" to the word "sivlosam" (their suffering) is the basis for Rashi's comment. Had the verse said simply he saw "sivlosam" ('their suffering) it would mean just that - that he saw their suffering, but the additional "bet" implies that he saw "in their suffering" or "with their suffering". Of course, the word "with" implies identification with the other.
A CLOSER LOOK
Rashi says "he committed his eyes and heart". The word "heart" is the basis for the idea of identification, it conveys the idea of a mental act. But why does Rash use these two words?
A BETTER UNDERSTANDING
An Answer: The word 'Vayar" ( "He saw") in the Tanach can mean both actual visual perception and also mental understanding. Just as we say in English "Oh I see what you're saying" which means "I understand what you're saying". (see Rashi on Genesis 18:2 where he tells us this.) Therefore Rashi makes use of both these meanings here; actual perception (eyes) and mental understanding or identification in this case (heart).
We a similar connection between eyes and heart in the verse from the Shema "You shall not go searching after your heart or after your eyes".
A FINAL NOTE
Actually, it seems Moses' close identification with the People's suffering is what eventually did him in. When the Israelites thirsted for water in the desert, Moses was so disturbed by their suffering that he hit the rock twice in haste to end their suffering; and that was his sin for which he was deprived of entering the Holy Land.
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
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