Shemos – Moshe’s “Match Made In Heaven” Story

 Many couples have a special story how they met and it’s one of those touching stories with “Hashem’s guidance at the right time” written all throughout it. Moshe Rabbeinu has one of those stories as told over in the Medrish Tanchuma (10,11) of this week’s Torah portion of Shemos.

When Moshe ran away to Midian and found a well, he was taking the route of his forefathers. The Etz Yosef actually says it would have made more sense for Moshe to go to the local inn;, why did he wind up by a well? It must be he was looking to get married. The medrish continues, by saying that there were three people who found their match by a well:, Yitzchak, Yaakov, and Moshe…

The next paragraph relates how Yisro’s daughters wound up becoming shepherds, as. Yisro was a priest for idolatry. If that was‘s the case,why could Hashem orchestrate that such a tzadik, a righteous man, like Moshe, wind up amongst idolatry, if on the contrary Hashem is zealous against idolatry? However, since Yisro was a priest and idols were usually degraded by their worshipers and attendants, Yisro realized the fallacy behind idolatry and decided to repent before Moshe had even showed up. He called his whole city together and said,until now I was working for you, now I am elderly, go choose some other priest. He then got up and removed all the idols and  theparaphernalia used for upkeep and worship from out of the temple and gave it all to them. In response they excommunicated him; no one could have anything to do with him or work for him;, meaning they couldn’t even be his flock’s shepherd. Yisro asked the shepherds to take care of his flock, but they refused and banished him and his daughters like a woman divorced from her husband;, meaning they weren’t thrown out of town but were ignored by all. That is how the daughters became shepherds. Then one day the shepherds were harassing the daughters of Yisro, and it happened to be the day Moshe showed up looking for a shidduch, and he saved them. They then went back home and told their story to their father of how an Egyptian saved them, and water miraculously came up the well towards him and they were able to feed their entire flock. Yisro said back to them, “do you know who this is? It is a grandson of ‘those that stand by the well’ that the well recognizes it’s master.” (The Etz Yosef points out that Yisro knew the story of Yaakov and Rivka, how the well was blessed because of them, and its water would simply rise up when they needed water. They didn’t need to put in any effort to draw water, rather the water would rise up to meet them). So Yisro told them to invite him to eat, and perhaps he would marry one of them. Moshe wound up marrying Tziporah and the rest is history. (Click here for Hebrew text.)

Within this beautiful story the medrish asks why the daughters told their father that an Egyptian saved them;, did Moshe look like an Egyptian? The Etz Yosef points out that Egyptians (descendants of Cham) and Ivrim (descendants of Shem) looked very different, besides the fact that Moshe looked angelic, so how can they mistakenly think he was an Egyptian?! Rather the medrish answers that if not for the Egyptian that Moshe killed, he would never have wound up in Midian. This could be compared to a person who was bitten by a poisonous snake;, he runs to a river to put his bitten leg into water. As he goes into the water, he sees a small child drowning and saves him. The child says, ‘If not for you I would be dead!’ He says back, ‘I didn’t save you the snake did, who bit me, and I ran away from him and saved you.’ So to the daughters of Yisro told Moshe, ‘Thank you for saving us from those shepherds. Moshe told them, ‘The Egyptian I killed saved you.’ Therefore, they told their father it was an Egyptian, meaning who caused all this to happen to us it was the Egyptian who was killed.

The Etz Yosef quoting a Yifeh Toar says the reason why Moshe didn’t credit himself is because the whole thing happened through Hashem. The obvious question is that Moshe didn’t credit Hashem either, and he could’ve said Hashem sent me to save you, or this was all orchestrated by Hashem. Why did Moshe give the credit to the Egyptian he killed?

It is evident that Moshe made it clear that Hashem saved them, but he was teaching a lesson that the best way to realize Hashem’s interaction and “Hand” in the process is by going into detail about each step of how they got saved. Contemplating and expressing every detail and not just plainly crediting Hashem will make people better appreciate Hashem’s ever involvement in our lives.

Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Dovid Shmuel Milder