In this week’s parsha, G-d instructs Moshe and Aharon to go to Pharaoh. G-d tells them how Pharaoh will react, and what will occur step by step.
“And G-d said to Moshe ‘see that I have made you a master over Pharaoh…and (ultimately) he will send The Children of Israel from his land. I will strengthen Pharaoh’s heart…and Pharaoh will not listen to you (at first), and I will place My hand on Egypt, and (then) I will bring out My legions, My people, from the land of Egypt…’And Moshe and Aharon did just as G-d commanded them…and Moshe was eighty years old, and Aharon was eighty three years old when they spoke with Pharaoh.” (Exodus 7:1-7)
Everything in these seven short verses seem to make perfect sense together except the last one regarding the ages of Moshe and Aharon. This verse is seemingly out of place.
Rabbi Shimon Schwab, in his work Mayan Beis HaShoaiva, notes the inconsistency, an offers the following solution.
If we would stop to think about the era in which Moshe and Aharon were born, we would be reminded of an astounding thing. The decree of “if it is a male child you shall kill it” (Exodus 1:16) which Pharaoh ordered to the Jewish midwives, was at the time that Aharon was born. When Moshe was born, the decree of “every male child born should be thrown into the river.” (Exodus 1:22). The root of the name Aharon means “conception,” as in conceiving a child. This is most likely because it was so amazing that Aharon managed to see the light of day.
Rav Schwab says that there is an undercurrent being conveyed here in the Torah. Here are Moshe and Aharon, living and breathing manifestations of Pharaoh’s decrees made null and void!
I find this an encouraging message. “There are many thoughts in the heart of man, but the counsel of G-d, it (alone) sustains.” (Proverbs 19:21 ) Pharaoh did everything he could to annul the astrological prediction that the Children of Israel’s redeemer would come from a child born in that time of vicious decrees. Nevertheless here stand Moshe and Aharon who somehow managed to make it through. As Rabbi Berel Wein always says “G-d has a sense of humor.”
The message is clear. Things are never as bad as they look. Never despair because out of the darkest of situations came the brightest of lights.