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"It happened in those days that Moshe grew up and went out to his brethren and observed their burdens; and he saw an Egyptian man striking a Hebrew man, of his brethren. He turned this way and that and saw that there was no man, so he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. He went out the next day and behold! two Hebrew men were fighting. He said to the wicked one, 'Why would you strike your fellow?'" (Shemos 2:11-13).
At the beginning of this "Book of Exile and Redemption," as the Ramban calls it, the torah introduces us to our savior; the hero, designated by the Almighty, to take us out of Egypt and lead us to the Promised Land. The Alter of Kelem points out that although Moshe Rabbeinu was perfect in every way, especially excelling in the attribute of Modesty; the character trait of his which the Torah picked to tell us about, at the very beginning, is his tendency to help the afflicted carry their burden.

Although Moshe is being raised in Par'oh's palace as the Prince of Egypt, he cannot be comfortable knowing that his brothers are suffering in the fields. He endangers his own self-being by going out to them and doing the unheard of: slaying an Egyptian taskmaster. He is even more upset when he finds a Jew oppressing his own brother and interferes once again. This time he pays for his goodness by having to forfeit his freedom, and is forced to flee Egypt as a wanted criminal.

This is the way of all true leaders of Israel. There is nothing they won't do to try to help a Jew in despair.

I heard a story from Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Shulzinger, shlita, which he heard from his mentor, Rabbi Yechezkel Abramsky, ztvk"l, who served as Chief Rabbi of England before he came to live in Israel.

Rabbi Abramsky was sitting at his desk at home. He had just mailed the list of students studying in all of the Yeshivas in England to Her Majesty's Ministry of Defense. They would all be receiving their exemptions from service in the Defense Forces of Great Britain. Even non-Jews understand that the success of their soldiers depends not only on their might, but on the help of the Almighty. Granting exemptions to those who study His Law will not weaken the Army but strengthen it.

In England, this service to Students of Divinity is done in a respectful manner. The students themselves are not asked to waste their time by coming personally for humiliating interviews. The Chief Rabbi, who is respected by all English citizens, affixes his seal to the list of students, and they are granted exemptions. This is kevod HaTorah (honor of the Torah).

Suddenly, a distraught woman arrived at the Chief Rabbi's home. She introduced herself and immediately began to cry hysterically. She explained that she became a widow a few months before and she was forced to take her son out of yeshiva to be closer to her. He is a very diligent student, she went on, and he learns all day long in a synagogue near her home, no less than the other boys his age do in yeshivas. But in her unfortunate situation, she must at least see him at mealtimes and at night when he comes home to sleep; something she wouldn't be able to achieve if he remained in yeshiva. She begged the Rabbi to include her son in the list of students exempt from the draft.

Rabbi Abramsky explained to the woman that there were two problems: 1) He had already mailed the list to the authorities; 2) Although her son was learning as much as any yeshiva student, the Law of the Land only granted exemptions to those who were part of official bodies of learning. Nevertheless, the Rabbi understood her plight and sincerely wanted to help. He suggested the following: "You open up a Tehillim and pray from the depths of your heart that I be successful in my mission, and I will try my best to help you."

With no further to do, the Chief Rabbi took his cane and headed straight for the office of the Minister in charge of Military exemptions. Rabbi Abramsky was an elegant man and as soon as he entered the Ministry offices everyone in the room stood up in his honor. He was allowed to meet with the Minister straight away and he got right to the point, explaining the widow's predicament. "I know," said the Rabbi, "that what I am asking you to do is contrary to the Codex of the Land. But I want you to know that there is another Codex, which is superior to that one. and it is called 'the Book of the Heart.' And there it is written that one who helps people in distress, especially widows and orphans, will be blessed by the Almighty in every way possible!"

The Chief Rabbi presented the startled Minister with an envelope addressed to the student in question and, without waiting for a response, said that he hoped the young man would soon receive a positive reply to his request. The Rabbi left the office, returned home and told the widow that he hoped that her prayers were answered satisfactorily.

Several days later, the former yeshiva student was the first in the country to receive his exemption from the military.

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel