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REACHING FOR THE GOLD

by Rabbi Mordechai Cohen    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

There is an interesting Midrash on this week's Torah portion. Pharaoh's astrologers had discovered that the savior of the Jewish people had been born.

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There is an interesting Midrash on this week's Torah portion. Pharaoh's astrologers had discovered that the savior of the Jewish people had been born. In order to ascertain whether or not the baby Moses was destined to be this future leader of the Jewish people, the Egyptians devised a test. They placed burning hot coals in one dish and jewels in a second dish. If Moses were to reach for the jewels, the Egyptians reasoned this to be a sign that he was a threat to the kingdom and should be killed immediately. When Moses in fact reached for the jewels, Hashem sent an angel to conceal the fact that Moses was the future leader of the Jewish people, and the angel pushed Moses' hand towards the hot coals instead. The angel not only caused the baby Moses to choose the hot coals, but Moses also placed it to his lips. As a result, he developed a speech impediment. The question arises, what did Moses do wrong as a child that he should have been punished with a lifelong handicap?

Before Joseph died, he told his brothers that a long and bitter exile was about to begin. However this exile would not last forever. There will come a day when a person will come and say the words, "Pakod pokadity - you shall surely be redeemed," and he would be the divinely appointed person to lead the Jewish people out of Egypt. He would tell us, "Hashem has remembered the promise made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The time has come to leave Egypt." This tradition was passed down from one generation to the next. One might ask, since the Jewish people were aware of this tradition, what was stopping an impostor from coming along and saying this two-word formula?

Hashem caused Moses to develop a speech impediment, of which everyone was aware. Included in his speech problem was an inability to pronounce the sound of the letter "P". Thus, years later, when Moses returned to Egypt, his being able to enunciate clearly "Pakod Pokadity" was proof that Moses was sent by Hashem.

Moses' parents could have wondered how could G-d let an innocent child be afflicted with such a handicap. However, they did not question Hashem, and in the end, it was all for the best.

From this we learn an important lesson. We should realize that, on the average, we are on this earth for seventy or eighty years out of thousands. We can't expect to come to this earth - in the middle of the movie, so to speak - and clearly understand the entire picture. Hashem has a master plan, and we don't always understand everything that goes on around us. We should learn from Moses' parents not to be so quick to question the ways of Hashem.

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Rabbi Mordechai Cohen is an educator at the Torah Day School of Atlanta.

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