Shemot: This Way And That

Moment of Truth

Now it came to pass in those days that Moses grew up and went out to his brothers and looked at their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian man striking a Hebrew man of his brothers. He turned this way and that way, and he saw that there was no man; so he struck the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. – Ex. 2:11-12

There’s a beautiful teaching from the Kotzker Rebbe (1787-1859) on Moses turning “this way and that way” before killing an Egyptian taskmaster who is brutalizing a Jewish slave. Recall that Moses was born to a family of Jewish slaves from the tribe of Levi, but raised as an Egyptian in Pharaoh’s palace. Now he is at a crossroads. The Kotzker says, “Moses looked this way and that way inside himself, and noticed that he was part Egyptian and part Jew, and he realized that this is no way to be a man, and so he killed the Egyptian part that was inside of him, and buried it deep down in the sand.” 

Moses’ journey of greatness begins when he rejects the values of Egypt and instead chooses to fulfill his mission as a Jew. May we all have the strength and insight to know who we are and why we’re here!

Image: “Moses killing the Egyptian” from Passover Haggadah, 14th cent. 

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