A Taste of Torah – Parshas Shemos

Written by: Rabbi Avrohom S.Moller

“A man went from the house of Levi and married a daughter of Levi.” With these words, the Torah tells us the background of Moshe Rabeinu’s birth. It seems that the Torah deliberately does not identify Moshe’s parentage and instead describes them as members of the tribe of Levi. This is unusual since there is no secret that Amram and Yocheved were his parents. They are named in the beginning of next week’s parsha as his parents, and the Torah devotes several pesukim to establish Moshe’s parentage.

Rav Shamshon R. Hirsch suggests that the Torah is underscoring the fact that Moshe parents were Levites because the tribe of Levi had been castigated in last week’s parsha for their fierceness and uncontrolled anger. Yaakov Avinu criticized Levi for the destruction of Shechem, and he attributed his action to unbridled anger.

Although anger is a very dangerous emotion, it does have its useful side. For example, when Pharaoh decreed that all Jewish males should be drowned, Amram, a trendsetting leader, separated from his wife. He felt that there was no future for newborn children. His daughter Miriam rebuked him and said that he had no right to make such a decision about the Jewish people’s future. She succeeded in arousing a righteous indignation in her father. Amram realized that his action was a concession to Pharaoh, and instead, he needed to fight back by remarrying Yocheved and having more children and so Moshe the Redeemer was born. In greatest of ironies, Hashem had him raised right under Pharaoh’s nose. It all began with a well-placed anger against the tyranny and cruelty of Egypt which created the will to fight for a future.

There are two lessons here. Firstly, a character fault can be channeled and turned into the very thing that brings salvation. Secondly, Hashem and his Torah are very fair. By the end of last week’s parsha, Levi is chastised and seems to be left with no blessing and somewhat disenfranchised. However, his family uses the very trait which brought him this criticism, not only to redeem themselves, but to become leaders who stand up to wrongdoing in the very finest way.

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