Pharaoh’s daughter went down to bathe by the River and her maidens walked
along the River. She saw the basket among the reeds and she sent her maid
servant and she took it…She called his name Moshe as she said, “For I drew
him from the water.” (Shemos 2:10)
She sent her maid servant: Our sages learn that she stretched out her arm
and it became elongated many cubits. (Rashi)
“Why was it that Moshe was not named “Mashui”? which grammatically
describes him as having been drawn from the water? Rather she called him
Moshe which implies that he drew himself out of the water …that is his own
merit caused him to be drawn from the water.” (Midrah HaGadol)
I once heard the question asked, “Why did Basya, the daughter of Pharaoh,
bother to send out her hand to grasp something that was out of her reach?”
Would we extend our hand to the ketchup if it was at the other end of a
long table and it was impossibly far away? Why bother to reach at all for
something so far out of reach?
A close friend of mine who moved to Israel years back was having a problem
integrating his younger son into school. The boy, we’ll call him Yehudi,
was having a hard time finding his place amongst the other students.
Either they weren’t welcoming to him or he wasn’t warm to them but the
problem lingered and festered. The other children had adapted without much
crisis but poor Yehudi began to resent going to school.
The father asked another close friend who has since become a sought after
educational consultant what he should do for his son. He was advised to
tune into his children’s radio hour that evening with his son Yehudi. On
the program Yehudi’s problem was presented to the listening audience and
callers were invited to offer Yehudi a solution. The hope was that the boy
would identify some clue or suggestion of help while unaware that the
discussion was about him.
A strange thing happened. Yehudi himself asked his father if he could call
the radio program. He did. He suggested that the boy should bring to
school candies and goodies for all the other kids in his class and that
might help them accept him more. It sounded like such a good idea that the
father actually implemented it and guess what? It worked! Yehudi had found
his own solution and he has not looked back since.
When the daughter of Pharaoh sent out her hand it was not to grasp the
ketchup or mustard. It was a Jewish child at risk amongst the bull-reeds.
Sometimes a person may have to reach impossibly far to help another and
the results may prove to be disproportionately favorable if one just
stretches as far as they can first. There is another factor here, though.
The person has to be a willing participant in being helped, and he may
likely be the key-holder to his own salvation.
Someone told me just yesterday that a young boy was brought to Rabbi
Mordachai Schwab ztl for misconduct. Rabbi Schwab asked that the boy come
back the next day by which time it would be decided what to do with him.
When the boy returned, Rabbi Schwab handed him a wrapped up present. The
boy was shocked. He asked, “What’s this for?” Rabbi Schwab told
him, “This is for all the times that you behaved well.” Reaching that
extra distance when it’s a Jewish child amongst the bull-reeds may mean
extending a measure of seemingly undeserved tenderness and placing the
solution within a child’s reach.