web analytics
November 28, 2014 / 6 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Parshat Shemot


        “Houston, we have a problem.” These words that were transmitted on April 11, 1970 by astronaut Jim Lovell, commander of Apollo 13, initiated a crisis of potential catastrophic proportions for NASA and the space program. There had been an explosion in the landing module’s cryogenic hydrogen and oxygen tanks, which provide electrical power, oxygen and water for the astronauts. Due to the explosion the spacecraft was quickly losing all of these, as well as its propulsion power. If something were not done quickly, Apollo 13 and its three astronauts would be lost. Instead of anticipating landing on the moon, the crewmembers were now wondering whether they would ever see their families again.
 
         In charge at mission control was Flight Director Eugene Kranz. After evaluating the damage and assessing the situation, Kranz and his team realized the full extent of what they had to do. “They had to keep the astronauts alive for four days, to get home using an engine designed to land on the Moon, and to perform the hazardous reentry procedure, all with dwindling power and water” (The Leader’s Mentor, Ian Jackman, Editor, Random House New York 2005, p. 25).
 
         After a 15-minute brainstorming session with his key people, Kranz ended with a pep talk. In no uncertain terms he let them know that, “When you leave this room, you must leave believing that this crew is coming homeFlight people have got to believe, your people have got to believe, that this crew is coming home.” Taking their lead from Kranz the NASA engineers outdid themselves. With creativity that boggles the mind every problem was solved, and the Apollo 13 crewmembers were successfully brought home.
 
         Without detracting from the vast accomplishments of the NASA engineers, experts who have studied this case assign substantial credit to Kranz himself. It was his steadfast belief that the crewmembers could be saved, as reflected in his words and actions, which inspired and drove the engineers. Had he shown doubt, the engineers might not have exerted the effort to come up with the solutions that ultimately resolved the crisis.
 
         We cannot emphasize enough, the importance of a leader believing that things will work out. In light of this we can understand why Moshe had to spend so many years outside of Egypt getting prepared to assume the leadership of Bnei Yisrael.
 
         The Torah relates Moshe’s experiences when he left the palace to check on his people. Almost immediately he comes across an Egyptian, brutally beating a Jew. The passuk states (2:12): “And he looked to and fro and saw that there was no man, so he slew the Egyptian and buried him in the sand.” Although the literal meaning of the verse is that Moshe checked to make sure nobody was watching, many commentators have understood the words as indicative of other issues.
 

         Rashi explains that before Moshe killed the Egyptian he looked into the future to make sure that nobody righteous was destined to come forth from him. Had this been the case, Moshe would have had to weigh this factor before he killed the Egyptian.

         The Netziv claims that Moshe first looked around to see if there was anybody that he could approach to summon help for the Jew. Sadly, Moshe saw that there was nobody. All of Egyptian society was indifferent to the plight of the Jews.
 
         Other commentaries explain that even the Jews themselves were indifferent. This idea was brought home to Moshe on the following day when he was trying to break up a fight between two Jews. He was essentially told to mind his own business. Seeing this, Moshe lost faith in the Jewish people. If a people could sink so low that they not only fail to help another Jew but they assault somebody who does, then Moshe felt that they were beyond help. In response to this Moshe felt he had no choice other than to flee Egypt.
 
         G-d, however, had other plans for Moshe. During his time in Midyan, while caring for Yitro’s sheep, the Midrash (Shemot Rabbah 2:2) describes how Moshe once followed a runaway sheep. Wondering why it fled, Moshe tracked it to a stream. Upon seeing it drink Moshe realized that the sheep was in fact tired and thirsty. It was not running away. We can envision that this incident gave Moshe a new perspective on Bnei Yisrael. Perhaps their indifference was not a sign of spiritual death but simply exhaustion.
 
         According to Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, this notion was reinforced at the Burning Bush. Moshe was perplexed at the fact that although there was a fire deep inside the bush, the bush itself was not on fire nor was the deep fire getting extinguished. Rabbi Soloveitchik explained that the bush symbolized the Jewish people. Although on the outside there was no fire, which represented the coldness of their slave mentality, inside there was a burning flame. “Once one penetrates into the depths of a Jew, no matter how repugnant his exterior, no matter how subordinate he is to his master, one will recognize that the Jew quests for freedom and quests for HaKadosh Baruch Hu (Noraot HaRav 8 edited by B. David Schreiber p.78).
 
         Moshe was now ready to return to Egypt. From his experiences as a shepherd and the revelation at the Bush, he learned that Bnei Yisrael could be saved. While there would still be setbacks, Moshe’s future doubts would no longer focus on Bnei Yisrael but rather on his own ability to lead them. Moshe now had the primary ingredient of leadership – he believed in his cause.
 
         Despite the difficult challenges they face, leaders must believe that they can succeed. Eugene Kranz captured the essence of this attitude, an attitude we should all adopt, in the title of his autobiography: Failure Is Not an Option.
 

         Rabbi David Hertzberg is the principal of the Yeshivah of Flatbush Middle Division. Questions and comments can be e-mailed to him at Mdrabbi@aol.com

About the Author: Rabbi Dr. David Hertzberg is the principal of the Yeshivah of Flatbush Middle Division and is an adjunct assistant professor of History at Touro College.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Parshat Shemot”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
IDF Chief Rabbi Rafi Peretz delivers lecture.
IDF Chief Rabbi: Nothing is Holy to Muslims on Temple Mount except Al Aqsa
Latest Judaism Stories
Parsha-Perspectives-NEW

A person who truly feels that everything is a blessing from G-d will count his blessings and realize just how much he has.

The Story of Jacob and Esau (2010) 11 x 19, bronze relief by Lynda Caspe. Courtesy Derfner Judaica Museum – Hebrew Home at Riverdale

Yaacov returns the stolen blessing of material wealth and physical might to Esav

Rapps-Rabbi-Joshua-logo

The Jew, from the perspective of the name Yaakov, is dependent on the non-Jewish world. This can be seen today in the relationship between the State of Israel and the United States

Lessons-Emunah-logo

Yet, ultimately, looking back, these “setbacks” turned out to be really for the patient’s best – for the good.

In the afternoon, he reached into his pocket to check for the money, but it was empty. “The $50 bill must have fallen out,” Alex exclaimed. “It’s got to be in one of the rooms I was just at.”

Although the conversion ceremony involves more than circumcision and immersion, these are the two essential requirements, without which the conversion is ineffective.

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Rashi in Shabbos 9b writes that the reason why the tefillah of Ma’ariv is a reshus is because it was instituted corresponding to the burning of the eimurim from the korbanos – which was performed at night.

It almost sounds as if Hashem is saying, “I have to keep Yaakov from getting too comfortable; otherwise he will forget Me. I can’t promise him sustenance because then he won’t need Me. He won’t write. He won’t call. He won’t love Me anymore.”

The Decree Of 1587
“Two Kabs Of Dinars Were Given…To King Yanai”
(Yevamos 61a)

Simply too many cases of prayers being answered to deny it makes a difference to our fate. It does.

Prayer is our language: Hakol kol Yaakov – the voice is the voice of Jacob – the voice of prayer.

Jacob cries, overcome by the knowledge that his great love for Rachel will end in unbearable pain.

There’s a perfect mirror between Jacob running away from Esav to when he reunites with his brother.

Yitzhak called you Esav and you answered him, then he called you Yaakov and you also answered him!”

More Articles from Rabbi David Hertzberg
Hertzberg-112114-Timing

Leaders must always pay attention to the importance of timing.

Hertzberg-101014-Oval-Office

Realizing that his death was immanent and he had only a few more moments, Moshe focuses on doing the most important thing: he runs to Bnei Yisrael and blesses them.

Perhaps the most important leadership lesson Elkana taught us is to never underestimate the difference a single person can make.

Eisenhower understood that motivated men will fight much harder and longer than unmotivated men.

When Germany invaded neutral Belgium on August 4, England declared war on Germany. Thus, by the end of the first week of August all the major powers of Europe were at war.

Although famous for his smile, Ike Eisenhower actually harbored a volcanic temper that he worked arduously to control.

Why did we merit exiting the gas chamber alive when so many others did not?

Without a plan of action, a leader will never be able to lead his followers anywhere, no matter how important the destination or lofty the goal.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/parshat-shemot-2/2007/01/10/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: