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Tuesday, Tevet 21, 5781 / January 5, 2021


In this week’s Parsha, Shmot, the Torah tells us that at one point Pharaoh wants to kill Moshe and he escapes to Midyan where he meets his future wife, Tziporah, at a well. Moshe marries her and becomes a shepherd for his father-in-law, Yitro.


One day, while tending his sheep, Moshe notices a bush burning without being consumed. He approaches and G-d reveals Himself to Moshe through the burning bush and commands him, "Take off your shoes from your feet, for the ground which you are standing on is holy ground."  G-d commands Moshe, "Go to Pharaoh and take My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt".  


Q.   Who named him Moshe and why?


A.  Pharaoh’s daughter, Bitya, who pulled him from the water named him, Moshe. “Moshe” comes from the word “to pull.”  She named him Moshe because she pulled him out of the water and saved his life. In the entire Torah, he is not called by the name which his parents gave him, but by the name Moshe, which Pharaoh's daughter gave him. It teaches us the importance of being grateful to someone who performed an act of kindness for you.


Q.    Moshe, who gave us the Torah and mitzvot, is called, “Moshe Rabeinu” – “Moshe our teacher.”  How does this name reflect that he was the one to give us the Torah?


A.The numerical value of the Hebrew letters Moshe Rabeinu add up to 613 (40+300+5+200+2+10+50+6=613).  His name alludes to the fact that through him G-d gave us the Torah and its 613 Mitzvot.


Q. The Torah tells us that Moshe was tending to the sheep of his father-in-law, Yitro, when G-d revealed himself to him and chose him to liberate the people. What is the connection between Moshe being a shepherd and his being chosen leader of his people?


A.  The Midrash explains that Moshe and King David were both shepherds and both showed extra devotion and care to the individual needs of the sheep in their flocks. G-d said, "If they are so devoted to the sheep, they will certainly care for the individual needs of My people!" Thus, they were chosen to lead the Jewish people.


Q.   What is the connection between G-d commanding Moshe, “Take off your shoes from your feet,” and choosing him as leader of the Jewish people?


A.   When one wears shoes, he is not bothered by small pebbles on the road.  G-d tells Moshe, in order to assume leadership of the Jewish people, "you must take off the shoes from your feet."  You must feel their pain and care for them no matter how big or small their pain may be.