title.jpg (23972 bytes) subscribe

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues


"Moshe replied to Hashem, 'Please, my G-d, I am not a man of words, not since yesterday, nor since the day before yesterday, nor since You first spoke to Your servant, for I am heavy of mouth and heavy of speech" (Shemos 4:10).

Rashi interprets this passage as follows:

This teaches us that the entire period of seven days Hashem had been endeavoring to persuade Moshe at the thorn bush to go on his mission, for the terms "since yesterday" and "since the day before yesterday" and "since You first spoke to Your servant" imply three days, and the threefold use of the word "gam" [also] which is mentioned here point to three extensions of the period, making six in all; and, therefore, he had now reached the seventh day when he further said to Him "Please, my G-d, send through whomever You will send" (ibid. 4:13), until Hashem became angry with him and he accepted the mission. All this reluctance was because he was unwilling to assume any dignity that would make him superior to his brother Aharon who was older than he and was also a prophet….

In this week's parashah, 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. His exemplary character traits are meant to be an inspiration and a lesson to all of us. We are expected to emulate him and follow in his ways.

Most people are self-centered; putting their own needs and wants before those of others. Anyone who has learned the Torah knows that Hashem demands that we reverse those priorities and demonstrate self-sacrifice for the benefit of others. But even one who will give up his own physical desires for his friend's sake often finds it difficult to do so when the item at hand is a spiritual gain.

Reb Yisroel Salanter ztvk"l would often say, "On Yom Kippur, when you are rushing to the synagogue to cleanse your soul, be careful not to step on someone else's foot. It's not his fault that it is Yom Kippur by you!" In other words, even when you are involved in lofty spiritual achievements, you are not to accomplish them at the expense of others.

Our attitude is, if I am doing a mitzvah, nothing else is important; neither my convenience nor any one else's. But that is a grave mistake. One may, and should, put his own concerns aside but he may never be oblivious to someone else's plight; causing him pain or anguish in order to achieve spiritual fulfillment.

Some people pray loudly in shul or learn deafeningly in the Beis Midrash. When reprimanded for disturbing others who are praying or studying too, they reply that this is their way of serving Hashem properly. The Mashgiach, Reb Chatskyl Levenstein ztvk"l, said that they are greatly mistaken. Although they are involved in mitzvahs between Man and G-d, in the Heavenly Court they will be found guilty of violating the restrictions between Man and Fellow Man.

As a young man, Reb Shalom Shvadron z"l was an assistant to a Mashgiach (spiritual supervisor) in a yeshiva. The Mashgiach traveled overseas to collect money for the yeshiva and was gone for a while. The students asked Reb Shalom if he would agree to speak before them in the Mashgiach's absence. Reb Shalom went to ask Reb Chatskyl who replied, "We have received a tradition from our Rabbis, generation after generation, that even if one has the opportunity to rebuild the Holy Temple; if it might cause anguish to someone, he should refrain from doing so!"

The proof is from this week's parashah. Although Hashem told Moshe that if he does not redeem the Jews, no one else can do the job (Midrash Shemos Rabbah 3:3), Moshe refused to go until Hashem assured him that Aharon would not mind but, on the contrary, "he is going out to meet you and when he sees you he will rejoice in his heart" (Shemos 4:14).

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel