Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Shmot
To dedicate this lesson



Rabbi Stewart Weiss

Tevet 17 5778
"Who is wise?" ask the Rabbis. "Ha-roeh et ha-nolad - he (or she) who sees that which is yet unborn."

This phrase, this sentiment, perfectly describes Miriam, one of the great - maybe the greatest heroine - of the entire Egyptian saga. Miriam - a midwife (along with her mother Yocheved) who saved the newborn Hebrew boys from
being murdered by Paro’s assassins - literally "saw the unborn" as she delivered those babies. And while Miriam doesn’t always get the same "hype" as her older brothers Ahron & Moshe, she was the initial catalyst for all the miracles that were to characterize this wondrous "birthing" of our nation.

The Medrash recounts how Miriam boldly stood up to her father Amram, who had urged his fellow Israelites to refrain from having more children. "Why subject these innocents to a cruel death?" he had preached to the community, while he himself separated from wife Yocheved in the process.

But Miriam castigated his actions: "You are worse than Paro!" she sternly preached. "Paro decreed only against the males, while you decree against all the children! Paro deprived the babies of life in this world, while you deprive them of life both in this word and the next!"

And so Amram relented & withdrew his decree. This led to the birth of Moshe, who would go on to lead the nation, & put a stop to all the atrocities of Paro. In Hashem’s mastery of sweet irony, Moshe would be raised – even pampered – by the very same people who had sought his demise, as the very water of the Nile that was to be his deathbed came to be his river of salvation & deliverance.

Miriam’s courageous act teaches us several crucial lessons in life: Never give in to prophecies of doom & gloom, never give up on our faith in the eternity of the Jewish People. Moreover, be extremely wary of "making cheshbonot," i.e. plotting the course of human events as you think it will turn out. Human vision is mortal, & so by its very nature is "short-sighted;" it cannot fathom all the unexpected twists & turns that history invariably takes, confounding the well-intentioned calculations of the prognosticators, who more than not completely misread the tea leaves.

Most of all, never, ever discount the "G-d factor" that presides just beyond the curtain, meticulously moving the players on stage & directing - if not producing - the action. Where logic & knowledge end, there Emuna takes over.

Miriam gazed into the darkness & saw the light of new life. And where there is Life, there is always Hope.

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