Parshas Shemos:
Giving is Growing

By Rabbi Mordechai Raizman
Teves 5757

In this week's Parsha, G-d appears to Moses in the burning bush, appointing him to be a leader of the Jewish people. One is prompted to ask, what did Moses do before this event to deserve this appointment?

In Exodus, (Chap. 2, verse 11), we are told that Moses leaves the comfort of Pharaoh's palace and walks among his brothers to share their plight. Rashi comments on the Torah's words, "He saw their burdens," that Moses involved himself emotionally and became distressed about their condition. Moses did not need to leave the comfort of the palace, yet he did. This display of compassion for his brothers is what made him worthy to be appointed as a leader.

Furthermore, what is the significance of the Torah's expression, "He went out on the second day?" (ibid., verse 13) Is it not enough to say he went out again? Perhaps the Torah is teaching an important lesson here. Moses knows that things have not changed overnight. He is going out and seeing the same affliction and suffering that he saw yesterday, yet he persists. He continues because he wants to feel his brothers' pain. His giving of himself beyond the call of duty, is what shows true leadership.

The Torah begins its description by stating, "Vayigdal Moshe." (The root of this word is gadol, meaning great.) Rashi tells us in Deuteronomy that the word "gadol" really means to give and not the common meaning which is (to be) big. The connection can be shown with a small analogy. A child, also known as a "koton", thinks only of himself. His first words are, "It's mine." As he grows he learns that he must share with others. As he grows older and he becomes big, a "gadol", he understands that learning to give to others is not just a nice character trait to possess; rather, it is essential to the true growth and development of a person. Throughout high school, college etc., developing relationships become impossible if he cannot learn how to give.

This, then, is the true meaning of Gadol. Growing up is giving. This is why the Torah describes Moses's act of giving by using the word "Gadol". The lesson to be learned from here is that a true "Gadol" displays that even beyond the call of duty, "It's not mine, it's yours."



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