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Torah Tuesdays with Hennie Black- Parshat Shemot

By Hennie Black



In this week’s Torah portion of Shemot, the Jewish people in Egypt are multiplying in great number. Pharoah feels threatened by their growth and orders all Jewish baby boys born to be killed by being thrown into the Nile River.  Moshe’s mother Yocheved could not bear to do this and instead placed him into a basket at the banks of the river.

Pharoah’s daughter came down to bathe in the Nile and saw a baby floating there. She instructed her maidservant to get the baby.

“She saw the basket among the reeds and she sent her maidservant and she took it.” 

The Hebrew word maidservant is “amah,” which can also be translated as an arm. With this understanding, Pharoah’s daughter stretched out her arm to reach for the basket. The Talmud teaches us that the basket was 30 feet away and impossible to reach naturally. It was a miracle that her arm extended so far. But why did she reach out at all?

Pharoah’s daughter heard Moshe’s cry, took pity on him and resolved to raise him as her own. To go against her own father’s decree and risk her own life was unimaginable! Her compassion and her desire to do what was right drove her to do the impossible!

The commentaries tell us that the daughter of Pharaoh was so determined to save the baby in the basket, Hashem rewarded her effort by extending her arm beyond the normal means.

This is true with us as well. Hashem tells us that if we extend ourselves and try to do a mitzvah, learn more, and offer kindness to others, Hashem will help us. There is no such thing as “impossible.” We instead should read “impossible” as “I’m possible.”

In life that is all that is expected from us. In the midrash of Song of Songs, Hashem tells us, “Open up for me the opening like the eye of a needle, and I in turn will open up doors that wagons and chariots can ride through.”

That is what Pharoah’s daughter teaches us: Even when we think things are beyond our reach, we just have to try.  We all have the ability within ourselves to make the impossible, possible.

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