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This Dvar Torah was gleaned from a shmuz I heard many years ago, at the turn of this century, from Rav Moshe Chait zt”l.
This week’s torah portion of Shemos, begins the second book of the Torah, describing the growth of Moshe Rabbeinu. “The child grew up, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became like her son. She named him Moshe, and she said, ‘For I drew him from the water.’ Now it came to pass in those days that Moshe grew up and went out to his brothers and looked into their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian man striking a Hebrew man of his brothers” (Shemos 2:10, 11).
The Yalkut Shimone (167) observes that it says about Moshe in the pesukim that he “grew up,” twice. The first one referring to physical growth and the second is gadlus, spiritual growth, when he went out amongst his brothers.
The Ramban on pasuk 11 says on the words “and went out to his brothers” that they told him he is Jewish, so he had a yearning to see what was going on with his brothers.
What was the gadlus, greatness, in the second “growing up? He went out to his brothers, meaning he was concerned about others; that is true greatness!
What does caring about others imply? The Medrish Rabba wonders when the Torah says “he grew up” doesn’t everyone grow up? The medrish answers that Moshe Rabbeinu grew supernaturally. When he was 5 years old, he had the physical body of a 15-year-old. With his maturity he “looked into their burdens,” as the pasuk literally says. Shouldn’t it have said “he saw their burdens?” Rather what the Torah is teaching us is that Moshe Rabbeinu investigated into the matter to see what is going on and he cried. He wished he could do something for them because of all the hard work with the cement; he would therefore lend his shoulder to actually help every one of them.
Moshe Rabbeinu didn’t just stand by and say it’s a nebuch, it’s a shame, he actually got involved. The idea of caring isn’t just to feel for them or even to shed a tear, but to do something. The medrish continues and remarks that Hashem said, ‘You looked out for the Jewish People, I then will look upon you and will assign you as leader over them.’
The Alter miSlobodka, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel zt”l, said that a sigh after hearing bad news is worse because instead of that reaction, one could have reacted in another way, maybe to do something about it. If one has a personal problem and he doesn’t just sigh but does something about it, but when it comes to others, he just sighs, that shows the level or lack of maturity in a person.
Rav Mordechai Gifter zt”l, Rosh Yeshiva of Telz Cleveland, when learning with someone, if he heard a crum svara, logic that did not sound right, he would get on his case and “start pelting him.” He said he did this in order to help the yeshiva guy because he couldn’t handle just standing by when the student would be making such a mistake. This shows how much he cared!
Rav Dovid Leibowitz zt”l, (one of the prime students of the Alter miSlobodka, founder of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim, and rebbe to Rav Moshe Chait zt”l), when he heard that one of his student’s father was bleeding ulcers he ran to the bima and started saying Tehillim. He was flowing with tears and put his whole being, and all his kishkes into his prayers. These are examples of greatness in caring for others!