This week, we begin Sefer Shemot, the book of Shemot, and we read its initial parsha, Parshat Shemot. In this sefer, we will ultimately see the transition of the children of Yaakov into a nation, and the initial steps of that process begin in this week’s Parsha, with the story of the future leader of the Jewish People, Moshe Rabbeinu. Moshe’s background is truly fascinating. He is brought up as a prince of Egypt, and ultimately discovers his identity as a member of the Bnei Yisrael.
Moshe’s duel identity comes to a dramatic fork in the road, as the Torah shares with us a story from his youth: And it happened in those days that Moshe grew up and went out to his brothers and saw their burdens. And he saw an Egyptian man striking a Hebrew man, from his brothers. He turned this way and that and saw there was no man, so he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand (Shemot 2:11-12).
In addition to the physical conflict that plays out in the story, the text of the Torah is hinting at an internal conflict that played out within Moshe. As someone who identifies as both a Jew and an Egyptian, Moshe is forced to choose, and to pick a side. When the Torah informs us that he “looked this way and that, and saw that there was no man”, what it’s really telling us is that at that moment he is forced to confront the duality of his own identity. When he chooses to strike down the Egyptian, he ultimately begins his journey towards playing a profound role in the birthing of the Jewish nation. By burying the Egyptian in the sand, he is truly burying his past and can begin to look towards his future.
We are all forced to make choices every day. Some are big, and some are small. The lesson that we learn from Moshe is although it can be scary to make the correct choice at times, especially when it is unpopular, we must show true resolve as Moshe did.
Eleventh Grade Student