This week’s Torah reading details the great suffering which the Children of Israel experienced in Egypt, as they were forced into backbreaking labor, along with horrific treatment. In time, the stargazers informed Pharaoh that a male baby was to be born who would redeem the people from his cruel enslavement. This prediction did not sit well with Pharaoh, and he subsequently decreed that all male, Jewish newborns be tossed into the Nile.

When Moses was born, his mother tucked him in a basket and placed the it on the river to float. Basya, the daughter of Pharaoh, found him and rescued him. She adopted him as a son and named him Moshe (Moses). The origin of this name is based on the Hebrew word “mishisihu,” which means, “the one I extracted.” Pharoah’s daughter gave him a name which represents the way she received him, which was by the means of extracting the baby out of the water. Why she chose to name the baby based on the way she attained him still needs to be explained. What is so significant about the fact that he was extracted from the water that he should carry forever a name which hints to this point? The Seforno explains (2:10): “Moshe,” actually means, “the one
who draws others.” Pharoah’s daughter sought to instill in her adopted son a life-long message: “Remember that you were once in trouble and you were saved by being extracted from the water. You too, should look out for others who are in trouble and extract them out of their plight.” Moses, indeed, remembered this message all his life and practiced it, bringing salvation to his
people time and time again.

My father had to move to Israel from the Unites States as a young lawyer, and wished to continue practicing law. In order to practice law in the new country, he had to perform an internship, but being that he was a foreigner with a language handicap, this was not easy to come by. Someone suggested that he try his luck working with a judge at a local courthouse. My
father decided to give it a shot, and when he entered the courthouse, he explained to the clerk the reason he had come. The clerk said to him abruptly, “Sit down here,” and with that he disappeared. The clerk did not seem to be handling his request pleasantly, and my father had no idea where he disappeared to. Nevertheless, my father decided to wait and see what would happen next. A few minutes later, the clerk emerged together with a British judge. The judge asked my father a few basic questions, and accepted him to work for him. And so it was, this is how my father gained the experience he needed in order to be certified to practice as an attorney in Israel.

One day, while my father was working with the British judge, my father turned to the judge and asked him, “Do you remember the time we first met and you accepted me to work with you?”

“Yes,” replied the judge.

My father continued, “I have always wondered, why exactly did you accept me on the spot so easily without further researching my background?”

“It was because of the clerk,” said the judge. “When you came in with your request, the clerk came up to my office and said, ‘Do you remember when you first arrived in Israel and had a difficult time breaking in to the field of law?’ I answered in the affirmative, and he continued, ‘There is an American lawyer downstairs in the same situation you were in; go help him out.'”

We have all experienced challenging situations in life, ones which we eventually emerged from. Human tendency is to forget about the past and move on. This is not the correct approach. We must realize that our experiences were given to us in order to help others. When we see someone troubled with a challenge similar to a situation we went through in the past, we need to
remember how we felt, and reach out to them. Instead of putting our past behind us, we can tap into our previous experiences, and utilize them to feel for others and be there for them.

By Rabbi Yitzchok Aryeh Strimber

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