The Role of the Daughter of Pharaoh in the Story of Yetziat Mizraim | Aleph Beta

The Role of the Daughter of Pharaoh in the Story of Yetziat Mizraim

The Role of the Daughter of Pharaoh in the Story of Yetziat Mizraim

Rabbi David Fohrman

Rabbi David Fohrman

Founder and Lead Scholar

In this video, Rabbi Fohrman is joined by Adam Mintz, Director of 929 English, for a discussion about the role of Pharaoh's Daughter in the story of Yetziat Mizraim. This discussion was recorded live on Zoom, June 25, 2020.


Rabbi Fohrman: Adam, you want to get us under way or--

Rabbi Mintz: Yes. Hi. Welcome everybody and thank you for joining us on a Thursday. For some of you for us on the East Coast it's Thursday afternoon. For those in Israel it's Thursday night, you're looking forward to the Sabbath. For those of you we heard at least one person from Los Angeles. Thank you for joining us nice and early in the morning for this class.

I am the director of 929 English, an online platform for the study of a daily chapter of Tanach. In our daily chapter we're up to Hosea, which creates its own interesting dynamic as we work through The Twelve Prophets. It's really an honor for me to be able to be here today with Rabbi Fohrman and with Aleph Beta. To be able to talk about the daughter of Pharaoh, to be able to explore together and to learn from Rabbi Fohrman.

So thank you, Rabbi Fohrman, for giving me the opportunity to be here with you today. To be here together with all of the people from around the world who are with us. I join everybody here, Rabbi Fohrman, in saying, we're looking forward to a fantastic class today.

Rabbi Fohrman: Okay. Thanks so much. Thank you for reaching out, Adam Rabbi Mintz. It's great to talk with you and to talk with everybody else. I guess, the way we'll do this is pretty much between me and you. Folks can listen in. You can also, if you like, use the chat box. There's a chat box and we'll do our best to kind of monitor it. Rabbi Mintz, you can also monitor that, so we can try to respond to that.

Just a warning. It's not easy to talk and monitor a chat box at the same time. So most of the time, what I'm going to be doing is waiting until the end to kind of do questions and then we'll do that. I'm also going to mute you guys so that it's easier for us to hear each other. Rabbi Mintz, you can feel free to unmute yourself. Then when you ask a question kind of at the end or a comment, feel free to unmute yourself at that point.

Okay. So let me kind of dive in with you and talk to you a bit about what I wanted to talk with you about today. So today, we're kind of talking about the daughter of Pharaoh and her role in the story of the Exodus from Egypt. A little while ago, there was one of these little newspapers in the country that was sending out a poll of people to who their favorite character in Tanach was. I actually picked the daughter of Pharaoh. So this is a chance to elaborate on that with you.

Maybe, let me begin with a story that began my journey and piquing my interest in the daughter of Pharaoh. The story goes back to when my son Moshe, my oldest son, was just in kindergarten and he was in a kind of Montessori kindergarten in Baltimore and he came home one day with this art project. The art project was a really long tight cardboard arm; a disembodied arm. It looked ghastly. So he said, Abba, guess what this is? I immediately, kind of intuitive, what the arm was. The arm, of course, was the arm of the daughter of Pharaoh.

There's a famous Midrash that the white cut out arm was talking about. The Midrash, that is, I believe, quoted by Rashi, says that when the daughter of Pharaoh reached for Moses, when she saw little Moses hidden in the bulrushes. What happened, that her arm miraculously extended and she actually managed to grab this baby from yards and yards away and there was this miracle that took place.

At that time, I kind of had this dilemma which is what do you do with your kid at that moment? So here he was, standing there with his white cut out arm and what was I going to explain to him? The real question is why did the Rabbis take such a story and make it as difficult as they do?

In other words, if you go back to the text, if you look at the actual text of the story of the daughter of Pharaoh. Let me see if I can bring that text up on the screen for you. I'll open a little Sefaria box, that maybe we can share a Sefaria screen.

The story of the daughter of Pharaoh goes all the way back to the Exodus 2 over here. Let's get English and Hebrew together side by side on the screen. Let's see if I can share that and look at this at the same time. Okay. There you go. So you should be able to see this here.

Anyway, so here's the story. It seems like a very nice story on the face of it. "Va'teired bat Pharaoh lirchotz al ha'yeor v'na'arotehah holchot al yad ha'yeor va'teire et hateivah b'toch hasuf vatishlach et amatah vatikachehah." So here's what the text says. That the daughter of Pharaoh sends her maidservant and her maidservant goes and fetches Moses from the bulrushes.

Of course, our Sages looked at that word amatah and what they said is that amah is a homonym and amah can mean something else besides maidservant. Of course, the other thing that an amah means is an arm, literally, the forearm from the elbow to the fingers. Therefore, what they said is that in reality the daughter of Pharaoh didn't actually send her maidservant, she actually sent her arm.

This is one of these great moments where you have to ask yourself how Midrash works and how to sort of distinguish it from p'shat. Because if this happened in p'shat, which is to say if you confuse what the Midrash is saying with the simple meaning of the story. So imagine this actually happened. Then the question is why are the Rabbis telling me this if it's such a strange thing? It makes the story so difficult.

So, Rabbi Mintz, let me ask you this question. If you put yourself in the shoes of the daughter of Pharaoh for a moment. Here you are, you're going down for your Sunday morning bath at the Nile and you see this little, "teivah b'toch hasuf," you see this little box. You hear this child crying. You're intrigued. You think, let me see what's going on there. Before you know it, your arm, a regular normal arm of a daughter of Pharaoh, actually stretches 30 yards to go get that little box. You're the daughter of Pharaoh, what would you do next?

Rabbi Mintz: I mean, you're just shaken and you figure what in the world is going on? Like you said, you know, I just came down here, as I come down here every single morning and something major is going on. You know, I always love I'm with you, Rabbi Fohrman, I love that moment. What was going through the daughter of Pharaoh's mind? It's pretty clear to us, even though the Torah doesn't tell us. You know, she didn't pick up any other kids.

It wasn't like she went down every single morning to pick up kids who she found in bassinets on the Nile River. That wasn't what it was. It was something about that moment, that she realized that Moses that this baby, was different. One thing is her hand is outstretched. The other thing is that somehow there's an aura, there's a light, above Moses. I think that combo, that combination, must have really shaken her up.

Rabbi Fohrman: So giving that the Midrash talks about the light. The light actually was a little bit earlier in the story, which is visible to, according to the Midrash, to the parents of Moses. We'll talk about that in a moment. The main thing is if your arm stretches, if you're just your average daughter of Pharaoh and your arm stretches to get this child, it would've disrupted the whole story. I don't know about you, but if I was the daughter of Pharaoh and my arm started to stretch 30 yards to pick up a child, the next thing I would do is I would run back to the palace screaming, my arm, my arm and you'd go see a doctor.

The rest of the story just couldn't happen. You wouldn't have the rest of the story. The rest of the story is that she investigates the child. You wouldn't investigate the child if there was something wrong with your arm. So our Sages are saying something strange with this notion of her arm stretching. What is it that they're trying to get at with this notion of her arm stretching?

So again, what I wanted to suggest is I just want to begin with the following thought. That at some level the meaning of what our Sages are getting at, when they talk about the stretching of her arm. They're telling us something about what it must have been to have been the daughter of Pharaoh at that moment. Here's what, at some basic level, I think they might be trying to get at.

Put yourself in the shoes of the daughter of Pharaoh at that moment and ask yourself, is that child in her reach or is it not in her reach? If you think about what she wants to do with the child. What does she want to do with that child? Is it actually in her reach? Actually, better yet, instead of thinking about the shoes of the daughter of Pharaoh, put yourself in the shoes of the amah. The amah is that word that our Sages say means arm, but actually, in the p'shat means her maidservant. So this is her maidservant.

If you were her maidservant and again, let me ask you Rabbi Mintz. I'm going to ask you to be her maidservant for just a moment. So here you are, you've got a job in the palace. You're an average woman from an upper middle home in Egypt and you got hired to be one of the ladies in waiting for the daughter of Pharaoh. It's a pretty good job, if you could get it. What would you say your job description is? You've gone through basic training in the palace for being a lady in waiting of the daughter of Pharaoh. The daughter of Pharaoh is going out to bathe. What would you say is your job? What are you supposed to be to the daughter of Pharaoh?

Rabbi Mintz: So I always understood it, she's the one who held the towel. That's her job. That's an important job because you know all princesses need someone who's going to hold the towel. Whatever the equivalent was in ancient Egypt, she held the towel. Now, it's interesting, Rabbi Fohrman, that we don't have any background on the daughter of Pharaoh. You know, there are different kinds of princesses.

There are different kinds of princesses now and there are different kinds of princesses 4,000 years ago. What kind of princess was she? Was she someone who was seen as royalty? So when she went down to the Nile, do you think that everything stopped and everybody moved away from the Nile? Or do you think that maybe she was just a regular person and she went down to the Nile and there were other people there? It's amazing that the Torah doesn't give us any insight into what the optics were. What was the scene in the movie at that moment?

Rabbi Fohrman: So I always viewed her as palace secret service, right? She's there. That was the job of the secret service, above all is to protect the president. The job of the ladies in waiting, you're there primarily to protect the princess. So you fan out, you create a perimeter around the princess. Imagine that's your job, you're there fundamentally. You're hired by the palace to protect this brash princess. Just give me a second to just finish the thought.

Then imagine for a moment that you're the daughter of Pharaoh's lady in waiting and she sees this little cradle in the bulrushes. She says, "va'tiftach va'tirei'hu," and she sees this child and she sees that it's a na'ar bocheh, this little child crying. She says, "miyaldei ha'Ivrim zeh," it must be a Jewish child.

You even see, by the way, just at that moment, from the daughter of Pharaoh's angle, this kind of moment of conflict. Because her first response is, she hears this, na'ar bocheh, she hears this child crying and the text says, "va'tachmol alav," and she has compassion on the child. Her first response is compassion, but her second response is, "miyaldei ha'Ivrim zeh," it's a Hebrew child.

If you think about the conflict at that moment. On the one hand, as a human being, I feel compassion for the child, but then I say, who am I? I'm the daughter of Pharaoh. This is a Hebrew child. What has Pharaoh asked all of his countrymen to do? To take children like this and to cast them in the Nile, to drown them. It's not easy to drown little babies, right? It's not a simple thing to do, but it was a national security concern, according to the King of Egypt and therefore, this is what he demanded. I'm his daughter and this is what I'm asked to also. There's this terrible moment of conflict at that moment.

So with that background, here you are, Rabbi Mintz. You're the maidservant, you're the secret service and she comes to you and says, go fetch that child. I want that child. I want to take care of that child. Now, your job is to protect the princess. What should you say at this moment?

Rabbi Mintz: So the same way you described secret service, that their job is to do whatever the president wants them to do, basically, they have no mind of their own. So that conflict, that you so wonderfully described, that the daughter of Pharaoh feels, the secret service does not feel that conflict. She does whatever the daughter of Pharaoh wants.

Rabbi Fohrman: Well, that's one possibility, but the other possibility is who's her employer? Is her employer really the daughter of Pharaoh? Or is her employer the palace? Now the question is what do you do when there's a conflict between the wishes of the daughter of Pharaoh and the wishes of your real employer, who is the palace and of course the man behind the palace is Pharaoh. So you have to ask yourself, the daughter of Pharaoh wants me to fetch this child, but what would Pharaoh want me to do? So given that 

Rabbi Mintz: So I like that and I say I always thought that it was interesting because, because of that conflict she has a very practical problem. That is what is she going to do with the child? The princess wants the child. Her employer, back at the palace, wants the child drowned, wants the child killed. She can't bring the child back because then she's going to get into trouble because like you said, her real employer gets her in trouble, but if she doesn't take the child, then she gets the daughter of Pharaoh angry. So I think the way you that conflict is great, but that conflict is really in this little baby. This cute, little baby whom they seem to have compassion for.

Rabbi Fohrman: Okay. So now what we're going to do, Rabbi Mintz, is you and I are going to play out the scene. We're going to actually don our robes; we're going to have a dress rehearsal. This is the daughter of Pharaoh play. I am going to play the daughter of Pharaoh; you're going to play the maidservant.

Here I am, I'm going down to the Nile. I see this child; I hear his cries. I feel a little conflicted, but then I make this decision, I want that child. I can imagine myself adopting that child. I can imagine myself saving him from all the terrible terrors. Right? Maidservant, please go, fetch that child for me. Okay? Talk to me. Forget what the text says. What would you do?

Rabbi Mintz: So I'm the maidservant, I have that conflict that you described. I don't know who my employer is. Is my employer the princess?

Rabbi Fohrman: Hold on one second let me I'm going to interrupt you. That's all background 

Rabbi Mintz: Okay. So bottom line, right now, the princess says to me take out this baby. My job immediately is to take out the baby, but I'm afraid because I don't know what to do with that baby. Maybe I'm not as compassionate as the daughter of Pharaoh who is taken with a moment of compassion. I'm a practical person. The secret service is practical and I'm holding this baby and I don't know what to do. Because if I take that baby back to the palace, the baby's in trouble and more importantly, I'm in trouble.

Rabbi Fohrman: So give me a solution then. So that's a really bad idea. So talk to me. Try to convince me out of it. What should you say?

Rabbi Mintz: So I take the baby out because you say to take the baby out and that's my immediate responsibility as a secret service is to do what the princess wants. Then, I need to say to the princess, hey, do you think this is a good idea?

Rabbi Fohrman: Yeah.

Rabbi Mintz: You know, we are both going to be in trouble because the background you presented, that the employer of the secret service is the king, but of course, the employer of the princess is the king.

Rabbi Fohrman: Exactly.

Rabbi Mintz: So it's not only 

Rabbi Fohrman: Exactly. Now, let me respond. I understand, maidservant, that we might be both getting in trouble, but this is the moment where we have to take a stand for the right thing. I want that child. I'm going to bring her up in the palace and it's going to be wonderful, right? Go fetch the child. What would you do now?

Rabbi Mintz: So me, I'm the secret service who is given to the princess. Even though you're right that the employer is the king, but my gut makes me connected to the princess. What I say to the princess is, I get you 100 percent. We need to figure out, between the two of us, how are we going to bring up this child properly?

Rabbi Fohrman: Excellent. So then you say, you know what? You're thinking to yourself. Okay. The daughter of Pharaoh, she's on this some sort of crazy noble legacy trip. She imagines herself as some kind of savior. I've got a job and a family to think about. I've got a paycheck to bring home. How do I militate, how do I negotiate between the daughter of Pharaoh, with all of her visions and my employer in the palace? What do I do?

So you come up with this idea and you say, you know, princess I have a great idea. Why don't we save the child, okay? Don't worry about the child. The child's going to be fine, but you don't have to bring her up. We don't have to give it to you. You do not need to be the mother of this child. We'll give her we'll find someone we'll just return her to the Jews. Just give her to one of the Jewish folks to find her parents and then we'll call it a day and let's go home to the palace.

Imagine you give me that suggestion and I say, no, I can't abide that. I have a personal responsibility for this child. I must make sure. I don't know if that child's going to live if I give him back to the Hebrews. I have a moral responsibility to make sure this child lives. I want to bring up the child.

So you roll your eyes and you say, princess, and you say to yourself, I think she's really getting away with herself. But you say, look, how about if we'll just do a little protekzia. Fine, you know what? Okay. Princess, you'll bring her home to the palace, but if you bring her home to the palace, do me a favor, don't ever tell the child who he came from. Don't ever let the child know who he really is. We'll pretend you adopted some Egyptian child. Something like that. Princess, you have to. It'll never work. Right? She says, no, I can't. I must tell the child who she is.

Now, how do you know that in the end this is what the daughter of Pharaoh did? That she actually told the child who he really is. If you look at the text carefully, you'll see it. Let me show you in the text something which I recently discovered which I think is fascinating. I am going to see if I can share the screen again and you can see this little piece here.

So, here comes Miriam. "Va'tomer achoto el bat Pharaoh." Miriam intercedes, sees the daughter of Pharaoh and says, "ha'eilech v'karati lach ishah meineket min ha'Ivriot," can I go and call a Jewish mother from the Jewish women to nurse this child because the child is crying and you can't nurse the child? So Miriam, in essence, is solving the conflict for the daughter of Pharaoh. You don't have to figure this out now. We'll give it to this nursemaid and then you can adopt the child later and you can have time to figure it out.

So the daughter of Pharaoh says, go do it. "V'teilech ha'almah," and then Miriam goes, "va'tikra et eim hayeled." Now here's the question. If you look carefully in the text, the text tells you, the reader, that she is calling the mother of the child, but there is someone who doesn't know it's the mother of the child, if you look carefully in the text. Who doesn't know it's the mother of the child?

The very next verse tells you. "Va'tomer lah bat Pharaoh," the daughter of Pharaoh then encounters the mother of the child and says, "heilichi et hayeled hazeh v'heinikihu li," take this child and nurse him for me, "va'ani eten et s'chareich," and I will pay you for it.

Who does she think she's talking to? She thinks she's talking to who Miriam said she was talking to. Which is, "v'karati lach ishah meineket min ha'Ivriot." I'll just find you a nursemaid from the Ivriot. She thinks she's any old lady. She doesn't realize it's the mother of the child. Miriam had the audacity to give it to the mother of the child without telling the daughter of Pharaoh that this was the mother of the child.

Therefore, the daughter of Pharaoh thinks that she's talking to someone who's a hired hand. Which means, that if you are the mother of the child, tragically, and you're nursing this child for 12 months as someone who's on the payroll of the daughter of Pharaoh, what's the one word you can never say to your son?

Rabbi Mintz: Son.

Rabbi Fohrman: Son. You can't say that. You'll die if you say that. The reason why Miriam doesn't divulge the identity of the daughter of the mother of Pharaoh is because Miriam understands that the fantasy of the daughter of Pharaoh is to take this child and it's hers. There is going to be nobody else. She's the mother now. Therefore, the actual mother can't say you're my son. Which means, that Moses has no conscious contact with his parents, even though his parents are there. Even though he's living in the house of his parents, for maybe the first two or three years of his life, he doesn't and can't know that he is their child. It's too dangerous.

Therefore, the only parent that he ever knows is the daughter of Pharaoh. Which means, that something amazing is happening a couple of verses later on. Let me go back and show you this one more time. Look what happens next. "Va'yigdal hayeled va'tevi'eihu l'bat Pharaoh," so the child grows up and she brings him back to the daughter of Pharaoh, he becomes her child. "Va'tikra et shemo Moshe va'tomer ki min hamayim meshi'tihu," she calls his name Moses because I drew you out of the water.

"Va'yehi ba'yamim hahem," and it happened in those days, "va'yigdal Moshe," that Moses grew older, "va'yeitzei el achav," and he goes out to his brothers, "va'yar b'sivlotam," and he sees their pain and their struggling. "Va'yar ish Mitzri makeh ish Ivri mei'echav," and he sees an Egyptian striking a Hebrew from his brothers.

Now, at that point, you have to ask yourself a question. Which is, how did he know? How did he know that those were his brothers? He was brought up, seemingly, as an Egyptian in the palace. It must be there's only one person who was in a position to tell him the truth. The only person in the position to tell him the truth is the daughter of Pharaoh. Which means, the daughter of Pharaoh, heroically, not only saved the child, not only felt she had a moral obligation to save this child, despite what her father had commanded, but also felt that she had a moral obligation to eventually let the child know who he is.

Which means, that sometime and we don't know when it happens she must have had a conversation with this little boy and she must have told him the shattering truth. Which is I love you and I will always be a mother to you and I'm the only mother that you'll ever have, but I need to let you know the truth. Which is you're not actually an Egyptian here. You're actually one of them and she points out the window to all of those slaves. Then at some point, Moses says I have to understand what their life is like; they're my brothers. I'm one of them. But she let him know that.

So if you now go back to that moment, at the bulrushes, with the daughter of Pharaoh and you're the maidservant. As the maidservant you say, princess, please. You'll bring him back to the palace, but the one thing you'll never tell him is who he really is. The one thing you'll never tell him is his actual providence that he's a Hebrew.

Imagine again, Rabbi Mintz, you're the maidservant and I'm the daughter of Pharaoh. I say to you, no, that would be wrong. He must know who he is. Right? So now, you're like literally tearing your hair out. You're thinking you're going to get us both killed over here. What do you think's going to happen here, princess, you feel like telling her? You think we're going to go back. You think it's easy for all of the people in the countryside to go killing children by throwing them in the Nile and you, the daughter of Pharaoh, you're going to go and you're going to defy your own father?

To borrow modern analogy, it's like imagine, 70 years ago in Hitler's Germany. Imagine that the daughter of Hitler decides one day, in the middle of all this genocide, that she's going to adopt a Jewish child and she's going to bring him in front of the Reichstag once a year and the Reichstag is going to say, this is a Jewish child, publicly this is a Jewish child. She's never going to get away with that. There's no way in the world you could get away with that. You would say, sire, your highness, I understand your high minded ideas, but it will never work. You don't have the ability to do what you think you're going to do. You're reaching for something that's out of your reach.

If you think about that metaphor, which is about the metaphor of your arms reach. We even use it nowadays for what can your arm reach. If I asked you and I said, okay, the moment she spies that child from 30 yards away, is that child in her reach or is that child out of her reach? Well, on one level, the child's in her reach. All she does is just asks you, the maidservant, to go fetch the child. So physically, that child's in her reach, but in every other way but the physical, that child's completely beyond her reach. What she wants to do with the child she can't do.

Like, Rabbi Mintz, I don't know about you, but the Rabbinate is a constricting kind of job. You know what I mean? There are certain things you might say, well, in a different kind of like I could imagine myself being a great disco dancer, but I'm not going to go to a discotheque, I'm a rabbi, that's not what I do. There are certain things you're just not going to do. They're not within your reach. You can't get away with that.

Similarly, the daughter of Pharaoh finds herself in a position where what she wants to do with the child she can't do. So what did she do then? In the act of dispatching that maidservant, in the act of saying no, I'm going to try to achieve what I want to achieve anyway, I think this is where our Sages were coming from. They said, in effect, that forearm of hers, that maidservant was like a forearm. It's like when she sent her maidservant, her actual arm extended. She was trying to reach for something which she had no business reaching for, which she couldn't reach for and at some level she succeeded anyway. 

Our Sages are suggesting, I think, a meaning to her act of choosing to dispatch the maidservant.

Rabbi Mintz: So first of all, fascinating. I would just say and I'm the maidservant and you're the princess and you're saying to me, I have a moral responsibility to tell this baby who this baby is. I think to myself, I'm stuck, exactly the way you presented it. Here's my suggestion, Rabbi Fohrman. What I say to the princess is I have an idea. You feel you have a moral responsibility, don't tell the kid that he's Jewish immediately. Wait until he grows up and it's, "va'yeitzei el echav," he's older already. However, the Midrash has a question how old he is.

She told him when he was an adult already that he was Jewish. The reason she told him that he was Jewish, was actually to protect him. Because basically, he had grown up as an Egyptian and she said to him, listen, I have a secret and this secret is just between you and me. That is, I'm telling you you're Jewish. Nobody else know that. You live in the palace and you eat dinner with us and you sleep with us. You are Egyptian just like all of us, but I need to protect you. I need to tell you that you're Jewish.

For Moses, in his life, being Jewish was irrelevant because he lived in the palace and as you said, he only knew one mother. The princess is the only mother he knows, he's completely Egyptian. The first moment that Moses has a crisis, a moral crisis, is when it's "va'yetizei el echav." When he sees the Egyptian hitting the Jew, for the very first time in his life, that little secret that his "mother" told him, all of a sudden it comes up. He never thought about it before and now he says to himself, oh, my goodness. She told me that I'm not the beater, I'm the beaten right here. What am I going to do about that?

Rabbi Fohrman: What's also interesting about what you're talking about is you're suggesting, if I can read between the lines, that the moral crisis that Moses experiences that the moment that he's, "va'yetizei el echav" let's just describe that crisis for a moment. Put yourself in the shoes of Moses.

Rabbi Mintz, now, you're Moses at the moment you look out the window. Your mother had this conversation with you. Nobody else knows that you're Jewish. It's just between you and her. You had that conversation three days ago. You look out the window and for the first time you see these slaves differently. You see their burdens and you want to go out and you see this Egyptian striking this Hebrew. What is the nature of that moral crisis in your mind? Let's talk about the two sides of that crisis. Side number one.

Rabbi Mintz: So side number one is that I'm an Egyptian, I grew up in the palace. Not only am I Egyptian, I'm a privileged Egyptian. I'm royalty. That's number one. So therefore, I'm an Egyptian.

Rabbi Fohrman: I'm going to stop you for a moment. As royalty, in the palace, this isn't the first time you've seen slaves. How did you look upon those slaves last week, watching them be beaten?

Rabbi Mintz: Well, it wasn't a moral issue because they didn't have a problem in those days if people served you, you know. The idea that slavery is bad is a modern idea. So it was fine to have slaves. They just happened to have Jewish slaves; absolutely no issue at all. So on one hand 

Rabbi Fohrman: Let me just stop you for a second. What was the culture in the palace? When a slave died because he was overworked or he was being beaten, what was the palace did it interrupt peoples champagne parties?

Rabbi Mintz: Not for a second. They didn't know anything about it. The slaves worked, they did their job, they poured the champagne and when they were done, they were done and they disappeared. So that wasn't a crisis for Moses. See, the crisis that you describe, to me, the key is that it's the first time. Think about us. This is how I was thinking about it beforehand. You know, we're Jewish and we're American.

We don't have a crisis resolving our Judaism versus our Americanism. Largely because we've lived our entire lives with that dichotomy and we know how to deal with it. Everybody might deal with it differently, but we know how to deal with it. But if you imagine it's the first time you have to deal with a crisis, that you're both an American and a Jew, you can imagine, hey, I don't know what to do about it.

The fact that it's the first time. You know, what you said, of course, is so great. That is, it's not only the first time, but he sees the people who are him being beaten up. That must have been so painful for him, but at the same time he wasn't quite sure. It's painful, but am I really them? A big part of him says, you know what? I'm royalty. I'm in pain, but I'm royalty.

Rabbi Fohrman: So let's just stop for a moment and let's relate the crisis that Moses has for a moment, at his great moral crisis as he begins to grow up, with the crisis that his adoptive mother had the moment she first met him at the Nile. At some level, isn't it exactly the same crisis? It's exactly the same crisis. Let's look at the two sides of the crisis the way you just described it.

Side number one is I'm royalty. That's what the daughter of Pharaoh could say. I'm royalty and who is that child crying out there? That is the other. That's the slave. They don't make a difference. I don't think about what it's like to be them. That's one way of thinking.

The other thing is, the greatness that she did is that she was pushed to expand her definition of brotherhood. At the basic level, who is my brother? At the most narrow level, she could say, you know who my brothers are? Whoever else is royal. Whoever else is in the royal family, these are my brothers. At some level, for her to hear those cries from this little baby, what she was saying is I'm expanding my notion of brotherhood.

Yes, there's someone who is not just royal, not just a commoner, but is actually the lowest level of the socioeconomic ladder. There's this human being who's a slave, who's been utterly maltreated, but in his cries, I hear the cry of another human being like me. A fundamental brother. She says I can't stop; I can't ignore that pain of a brother and she heroically expands her definition of brotherhood.

As painful as it is and as much as that expansion militates against her self interest. As much as the maidservants say, please be practical. This is crazy. Look where this is going to take you later on in life. You have a good life ahead of you. You just stay in line and you have a life of cocktail parties and what are you rocking the boat for? But she says, no. I'm not going to stand for this definition of brotherhood. It's exactly the same dilemma that Moses has.

Moses can either say, look, I have this terrible secret, but that's a secret that nobody knows and let me keep on going with this way I've always seen it before. My brothers are the royalty in the palace and there's nothing more. Or what he could say is let me expand my definition of brother and these people who seemed like the slaves, who I was brought up for 13 years to completely dismiss as the other and their pain and suffering is not the same as our pain and suffering. No, they are my brothers.

There's this part of his brain that tells him, Moses, where are you going with this? The second you step out there with compassion towards those people and try to take their side, you are jeopardizing a life of cocktail parties. You're jeopardizing any future you would have in the palace, by choosing to side with them.

But he's making the same choice she made and it's a choice that is embodied in his name. Because what did she choose to name him? She chose to name him for that rebellious act of stretching out her hand, "ki min hamayim meshi'tihu," drawing him out with that maidservant or that outstretched arm. For reaching what you can't reach for. That which is crazy to reach for. It's almost as if his destiny is to actualize his name. Can he reach with his own hand for something else that sounds crazy?

Rabbi Mintz: Rabbi Fohrman, and of course, that's the beauty of the Torah. Because at that moment in the Five Books of Moses, "va'yeitzei el echav," when we're listening to it as the reader, we don't know how Moses was going to respond. But the way you so perfectly described it, what you're really saying is yes, we do know how Moses is going to respond. Because using a literature term, it's foreshadowed. We know how Moses is going to respond because he learned from his mother. His mother chose echav over royalty and therefore, Moses is going to choose it.

So at that critical moment, which maybe you could argue, Rabbi Fohrman, is the most dramatic moment in the Five Books of Moses. At that moment Moses becomes Moses. At that moment, Moses has the choice to go back to dinner in the palace and to say, forget the whole thing and we might as well just forget about the whole the Five Books of Moses. That's the moment that Moses becomes Moses.

We, as the reader, have an idea of how he's going to decide because that's what he learned from his mother. Of course, when that's your personality you described so beautifully the daughter of Pharaoh; she made that decision. Someone who makes that decision doesn't just make that decision in the moment. Someone who makes that decision, lives a life of understanding brotherhood. She might have been the daughter of the man who wants to kill all the Jewish males, but she was different, she was special.

Rabbi Fohrman: Yeah. What's also fascinating about this is that the daughter of Pharaoh is, of course, anonymous in this story. We don't get her name. You and I are used to calling her Batyah. Where does this idea of Batyah come from? It turns out it actually comes from Chronicles. Chronicles makes a passing reference to a daughter of Pharaoh by the name of Bityah. The Gemara in Megillah actually picks up on that passing reference.

The Gemara in Megillah has something fascinating to say about it. Let me show you this little piece in Chronicles, where you get this. "V'eileh b'nei Bityah bat Pharaoh," these are the daughters of Bityah the daughter of Pharaoh, "asher lakach Mered," that a man by the name of Mered took as a wife.

Now this is just tucked away in Chronicles 1, but isn't it interesting you ask yourself, but who did this woman decide to marry? Of all things, what was his name? The guy's name was Mered. Rabbi Mintz, what does mered mean? 

Rabbi Mintz: Mered means rebellion and that is such a striking verse. It's great that the Gemara in Megillah picks up on exactly that.

Rabbi Fohrman: Exactly. So the Gemara in Megillah picks up on exactly that and says, you know who Mered was? The Gemara says, "Eileh b'nei Bityah asher lakach Mered, v'chi Mered shemo v'halo Kalev shemo," it was in fact Caleb who married the daughter of Pharaoh. "Amar Hakadosh Baruch Hu," God said, "yavo Kalev shemarad b'atzat Meraglim," let Caleb who rebelled against the idea of the Spies this was last week's parashah "v'yisa et bat Pharaoh shemardah b'beit avihah," and let him marry the daughter of Pharaoh who rebelled against her father's house.

If you think about it, it's as if these two rebels were a match made in Heaven. Think about the rebellion of Caleb. What was it like to be Caleb? Here you are in the story of Caleb and everybody else. What do you have going against you? The moment that Caleb stands up and says I don't actually have that screen in front of me, but if you just remember from last week's parashah. Let me see if I can find it in my Tanach for a moment. But if you just remember from last week's parashah, that moment that Caleb stands up and tries to dissuade the people from following them. You'll find it in Shelach, Chapter 14, Verse 6.

So Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Yefuneh, they tore their clothes. They say, "ha'aretz asher avarnu bah la'tur otah tovah ha'aretz me'od me'od. Im chafetz banu Hashem v'heivi otanu el ha'aretz hazot u'netanah lanu eretz asher hi zavat chalav u'devash. Ach b'Hashem al timrodu," whatever you do, don't rebel against God.

I'll show it to you in Sefaria for a moment. The beautiful thing about Sefaria, you can just search for these things quickly. So let's go to Numbers 14 and you'll actually see it. So this is the moment that Caleb makes his impassioned speech. Now, what happened? What was the background for this impassioned speech?

"V'yilonu al Moshe v'al Aharon kol B'nei Yisrael va'yomru aleihem kol ha'eidah lu matnu b'eretz Mitzrayim o bamidbar hazeh lu matnu." People said if only we had died back in Egypt. Why did God even bring us to this desert that we should die here? What are they saying? "Nitnah rosh v'nashuvah Mitzraimah," let's bring a head and let's go back to Egypt. What happens is there's 10 spies who were all saying that. Not only that, there's a whole mass of people in the kahal, a whole congregation that rises up with them and you had the snowball effect. No, we should just go back to Egypt already. Let's just go back to Egypt. It's almost like there's this mass hysteria.

At that moment, Caleb stands up and says in Verse 8, "Im chafetz banu Hashem v'heivi otanu el ha'aretz hazot," if God wants, He'll bring us to this place, "eretz zavat chalav u'devash. Ach b'Hashem al timrodu," but just do one thing; do not rebel against God. "V'atem al tir'u et am ha'aretz," don't worry about the people in Canaan, "ki lachmeinu hem," God is with us. There's nothing to fear.

It's fascinating. Put yourself in Caleb's shoes. Caleb also has this dilemma. The dilemma on the one hand is the masses, who say let's go back to Egypt and his own vision that no, we can get this land. What you need to do is not rebel against God. Yet, Caleb himself was a rebel. He wasn't a rebel against God, he was a rebel against the mass psychology of those around him.

Which is exactly the daughter of Pharaoh. The person, who according to the Gemara in Megillah, she ends up marrying has a very similar vision. She's an Egyptian. What do all the masses of Egyptians say? They have a propaganda line which they've been sold, which is these Hebrews, they aren't like us, their cries aren't like us, their babies aren't like us. We can turn a blind eye; we can throw them in the river and it's all okay.

Here she is, the daughter of the king who puts out that propaganda line and in rebellion against the masses and in rebellion against her father, says in effect there's one being I can't rebel against. A higher moral order than even my father. My father lives in a world in which there's a king of kings and there's a larger law than my father. That's the law that I have to obey. Therefore, I pledge myself to Him and not to me. And what becomes her name? Batyah. The daughter of God. As if to say, God becomes the same way that she adopts a child who's not hers, God adopts her as a child that's not His and says you can be My kid.

Rabbi Mintz: I would just take it and of course, that from that Gemara, you know that if Batyah marries Caleb and they're both mordim, they're both rebels, so her son Moses is also a rebel. When you think about Moses as being a rebel and of course, this is presenting that moral crisis that you described, that moment, "va'yeitzei el echav," he rebels exactly the way his mother rebelled. He rebels and he chooses "echav." Then you think about Moses and the 40 years in the desert and how he deals with rebels. Especially those of us outside of Israel, this week we read Parashat Korach.

You know, it's one thing to how do you deal with a rebellion. This is a question for leaders. How do you deal with a rebellion? We read this week how Moses deals with the rebellion of Korach. I always find it interesting to think, you know, Moses' personality is very much like Korach's personality. In the sense that Moses also, once upon a time, many, many decades earlier, he also rebelled. He knew what it meant to rebel against authority.

Now, of course, he was rebelling against a bad authority. Korach's rebelling against Moses, against God. But the idea, the personality of being a rebel is something that Moses understood 100 percent. You know, that's not this class, maybe another class in Parashat Korach, to go through Parashat Korach. I think you can read Parashat Korach differently if you think of Moses, who actually was in I think the phrase we use in America today is he was in Korach's head. He understood what it meant to be a rebel and I think his reaction was very much in light of that.

Maybe it's even a better maybe I could even say it's sharper. Not so much using Korach's head because Korach had to do with supernaturalת with God, but the way he talks to Datan and Aviram, I think you really get a feel that Moses, he knows the personality of Datan and Aviram and therefore, he knows how to deal with them properly.

Rabbi Fohrman: Yeah. That is kind of fascinating. Along those lines, I would ask you to take a look, for a second, at Parashat Pinchas, if you have a Tanach in front of you.

If you look in Parashat Pinchas, there's this really tragic moment at the end of Moses' life. It's right after the story of the daughters of Zelophehad in Chapter 27. I'll see if I can put it up on the screen. Chapter 27, Verse 12, in Numbers. Let me see if I can get it up here for the rest of you. Numbers 27. Let me share it with you guys.

So here's the story of the daughters of Zelophehad and here are the last moments, really, in Moses's life before he gives his valedictory speech in the Book of Numbers. Look at what God says to him. "Va'yomer Hashem el Moshe," God says to Moses, "aleih el Har Ha'avarim hazeh," go up to this mountain of passage, "re'eh et ha'aretz asher natati li'Bnei Yisrael," and see the land that I've given to Israel. "V'ra'itah otah," you will see it, "v'ne'esafta el amecha," but you will die, "gam atah," just like Aharon died. Why? "Ka'asher meritem pi b'Midbar Tzin bi'meribat ha'eidah," because you rebelled against Me when the congregation rebelled against Me at the moment when you hit the rock.

Isn't it fascinating and tragic that Moses is the rebel. What makes him who he is, at some basic level, is that ability to rebel against the masses and against who he was and to put himself on God's side. Somehow, at the very last moment and again, he was born in a moment of rebellion by his mother, when his mother rebelled at a body of water and saved him.

That became the touchstone to his life and the touchstone of his name Moses and his death comes at a moment of rebellion by water. When he goes and hits this rock and tragically God says, but you somehow took it too far and you rebelled against Me and at some level, rebellion is a dangerous kind of thing. It's like playing with fire rebellion, but it makes Moses who he is.

We only have a couple minutes left and there was a lot about five percent of the stuff I was planning on sharing with you, we got through. Just to kind of cut to the chase and get a little bit more of a larger picture here. One of the things I would ask you to think about as you go home and kind of contemplate this, is that this moment at the Nile, this moment that becomes a touchstone for Moses' life, happens again. It seems to be a touchstone for another moment later on. Our Sages actually point this out in another Midrash.

It happens at the moment of the Splitting of the Sea. At the moment of the Splitting of the Sea, when Miriam sings her song, our Sages ask about the strange introduction to Miriam. They say Miriam is described, the one who sings the song, as a prophetess. A "nevi'ah achot Aharon," as the sister of Aharon. Our Sages say, well, she was the sister of Moses, too and why do I understand that she was a prophetess?

Our Sages say, to understand why Miriam sang her song, you actually have to go back to a moment when Miriam herself had a prophesy, they say. When she was only the sister of Aharon and not yet the sister of Moses because Moses wasn't yet alive. Our Sages tell a story, a fascinating story, that she had this prophecy that her mother was going to give birth to a child that was going to save the people.

Without getting into the whole story, if you think about the trajectory of that story. Miriam has this prophecy; my brother is going to save the people. Then you begin to play out this story. Then, just ask yourself, so here Miriam is, there's this little baby Moses who she prophesized about and she's going to see what's going to be with her prophecy. She's the one child that doesn't give up hope. If you think about that, it's remarkable, right?

The text says, "V'tei'tatzav achoto mei'rachok l'dei'ah mah yei'aseh lo," that she stood from afar to see what would be with this little baby. What's fascinating is who didn't watch? I mean, again, if you put yourself in the shoes just go back to the Holocaust times and imagine those moments.

The mother of Moses tries to shelter this child for three months and at some point, the text says, "v'lo yachlah od hatzpino," she could not continue to shelter the child. Which means, it just wasn't possible. The Egyptian stormtroopers were everywhere. How long can you keep the baby's cries silent? You just can't do it anymore. At that moment, she takes a little teivah, this little box and she puts the child in the box.

Of course, you and I know that the box ends up becoming a little box that saves him, but at that moment it doesn't seem like the box that can save him. It seems like there's no hope for him. It seems like, what are the chances that that child survives? If you're the mother, you can't even shelter him for three months anymore because his cries are going to be heard by the stormtroopers. You put him in the little box by the bulrushes. When everyone is commanded to throw children in the Nile, what are the odds that that child actually survives without knowing the end of the story? It's like vanishingly close to zero.

Ask yourself, could you watch what happens next? It's like you can't watch what happens next. How can you watch? So you avert your eyes, but one person didn't avert their eyes. "Va'tei'tatzav achoto mei'rachok l'dei'ah mah yei'aseh lo," it's Miriam. Miriam stands and she watches. It's these two women, Miriam with her faith, that somehow the story isn't over yet. If I'm standing and watching, there's still hope. There's a God that can make things turn out differently. She, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, who pledges herself to a moral law, a father higher than her own. Another father in Heaven that she can obey and says, no I'm going to do the right thing by them.

These two women conspire to begin to make the story of the Exodus from Egypt unfold. Here's the point. Think about this moment of the Red Sea. So here Miriam is, she sings her song at the sea. The only other time you met Miriam is also at another moment by a big body of water. That moment by the Nile. Interestingly enough, what was the name of the sea? It was Yam Suf. At the Nile, if you looked out at the Nile, where was that baby in the Nile? "Va'tasem ba'suf al sefat ha'ye'or." He happened to be in the bulrushes, in the reeds at the side of the river.

Then, later on in history, there's this whole sea of reeds. So there was this moment where there was this Egyptian that comes down the road, the daughter of Pharaoh, that seems threatening. That seems like it was the end of the line to a single Jew that lying vulnerable by the reeds. Somehow, there's this other moment in history where there's a whole army of Egyptians that are facing down a whole nation of Israelites. It's by a whole sea of reeds.

Interestingly, Moses tells the people something when they cry out. What he tells the people is, "hityatzvu ure'u et yeshu'at Hashem," stand and watch. It's fascinating. If you think about that language, stand and watch. They don't know the sea's going to split. He says it's going to be okay, just have faith. "Hityatzvu ure'u," at the moment of the sea recalls what Miriam did because, "hityatzvu ure'u," is the same language as "va'tei'tatzav achoto mei'rachok l'dei'ah mah yei'aseh lo." It's as if it's all happening again. As if the destiny of Moses, the destiny of what happened at the Nile, it's going to recreate itself at some sort of macrocosmic level.

Here's what I want you to consider to kind of close. To such an extent, by the way, that if you look at the story here I can show you in anther shared screen here, but I've wound it up for you here. Here are these two stories side by side. On the right hand side of the screen is the story of Miriam and the daughter of Pharaoh. On the left hand side of the screen is the story of the Splitting of the Sea.

So the green, "u'Pharaoh hikriv;" there's this Egyptian that's coming. The green, "va'tered bat Pharaoh," the daughter of Pharaoh is coming. The "hityatzvu ure'u" in the yellow, against "va'tei'tatzav achoto mei'rachok l'dei'ah mah yei'aseh lo." It's the same. And look at the blue; it's a strange thing. "Va'yomer Hashem el Moshe," God says to Moses, "mah titzak eilai," why are you screaming at Me? Why are you crying to Me? Tell the Children of Israel that they can just go, everything is fine.

Such a strange thing. Was Moses really crying? Moses gave this very considered speech and told the people to stand and watch; it's going to be okay. Why does God say, "mah titzak eilai," why are you crying to Me? It's almost like, no there has to be this other moment that Moses cried. Because what was Moses doing in the first story? Look at the right hand side of the page. Look at the blue. "V'hinei na'ar bocheh," Moses was crying when he was just this infant. Here's this moment where it's all happening again. It's like Moses is crying one more time to God.

Here's the fascinating thing. Look at the way salvation comes about. "Va'tishlach et amatah," she sends her maidservant. As our Sages said, she sent her arm. What does that look like when you send your arm? How do you send your maidservant? You send your maidservant what would she have done? By sending your arm, it's that motion. It's this motion where you point and you go, that child over there, go get that child.

Look at what God tells Moses to do. Why does He even have to tell him to tell him to do that? The whole splitting of the sea happens miraculously by God, but God says no, you have something to do. You know what I want you to do Moses? "V'atah," and as for you, "hareim et matcha," lift up your rod, "u'neteh et yadcha al ha'yam uv'ka'eihu," and he cast it over the sea and split it. What is God telling Moses to do? It's that same motion that the daughter of Pharaoh did when she sent her maidservant/arm. That thing that you have your arm up and you point and you go that way. God says to Moses, you do that too.

What's fascinating is that at the very end of the story we say here you have the text over here. "Va'yar Yisrael et Mitzrayim meit al sefat hayam. Va'yar Yisrael et hayad hagedolah asher asah Hashem b'Mitzrayim." What in the world was " hayad hagedolah asher asah Hashem b'Mitzrayim?" The Israelites saw the great hand that God made in Egypt. What's the great hand that God made in Egypt? We always say that God took us out "b'zero'a netu'yah." What does it mean that God took us out "b'yad chazakah u'b'zero'a netu'yah?"

I want to suggest a possible new understanding of "yad chazakah u'b'zero'a netu'ya." It all goes back to the daughter of Pharaoh. The daughter of Pharaoh used a strong hand. If you think about this motion by the way, this motion actually is the motion of strength of hand, right? Any pitcher who throws a baseball, what's the motion of throwing? How do you throw a baseball 90 miles an hour? Your arm can't go 90 miles an hour. The answer is leverage. There's a leverage with the elbow joint, of the amah. You have your bicep with the lever of the elbow, with the lever of the wrist and then you have a big rod in your hand where you point. This is all the leverage of the human hand.

The first person that leveraged strength for a moral purpose in Egypt, was the daughter of Pharaoh in her great act of rebellion. When she sent that maidservant, she sent that maidservant with the leveraged motion of her arm. Whether her arm actually physically extended and became strong enough to get that child from 30 yards away, as our Sages said, or whether she leveraged her power by leveraging the maidservant and saying, I have resources at my disposal, maidservant you go get the child.

God said, I see what you're doing, the daughter of Pharaoh. You're leveraging power in noble services. You're trying to achieve something you can't possibly achieve. I will leverage your power to achieve what you can't even imagine achieving. You'll be able to bring up this child in Pharaoh's house and will actually succeed because I will make your hand stronger. I will give you more power than it is.

Then a time will come when this little baby, that you raised and he will take your values. He will understand his name. The child that was saved through that strong leveraged arm and he will start to use his arm. "Va'yigdal," and he will grow up and he will use his arm to ultimately strike a blow in favor of his brothers, his larger brothers. Then at the very end, what will happen? What will happen is I will leverage his hand to make it even stronger and he will save everyone with that same motion of "neteh et yadcha al ha'yam."

"Va'yar Yisrael et hayad hagedolah." What was the yad hagedolah? I want to suggest it's Moses' arm. It's not even God's arm. It's not anthropomorphic that God had an arm. God took Moses' arm and made it powerful. The "zero'a netu'ya," was the outstretched arm of Moses. With all the other plagues and with all the staff, God says I will take your arm and I will make it more powerful. In so doing, he's saying the touchstone for all of the Exodus from Egypt, it all goes back to the values and the leveraged power of the daughter of Pharaoh with that first moment that she sent her maidservant. It was the first outstretched arm.

I want to suggest, perhaps, if you think about phylacteries. Phylacteries is a strange thing, but what do we do with phylacteries? God says, I want you to remember, "v'hayah l'ot al yadchah," "ki b'chozek yad hotzi'anu Hashem mi'Mitzrayim." It's a sign on your arm, that with chozek yad, that with a strong arm, God took you out of Egypt. What happens when you put phylacteries on your arm, on your bicep? What is your bicep? Your bicep is the symbol of strength, it's the muscle that you make, but if you have phylacteries there it's looks like you have an even stronger bicep.

God says this is the symbol of the strength of arm, but it's also the moral strength of arm. There're little scrolls written, it's not muscle, it's laws and it's text and it's fealty to God's laws that make your arm strong. It goes back to the daughter of Pharaoh who perhaps is the earliest source for the idea of phylacteries. The strength of the outstretched arm, when your strength comes not through muscle power, but through the resources that you have available that are a maidservant, but even more, a fealty to God's law that somehow makes you strong.

So that's kind of what I want to leave you with. There's a lot more to say, but I think that at some level, the daughter of Pharaoh and her actions become a touchstone for Moses throughout his life and throughout the exodus from Egypt itself.

Rabbi Mintz: Thank you so much, Rabbi Fohrman. That last point was brilliant and really pulls the whole thing together and I think allows us to take something home from the lesson. We understand why you answered the question who your favorite figure in Tanach is, that you answered the daughter of Pharaoh. I think we really understand what the significance is with the daughter of Pharaoh, not just in Chapter 2, but, you know, throughout Exodus and, I guess, ultimately, throughout Jewish history as we put on phylacteries every single morning.

So thank you so, so much, Rabbi Fohrman.

Rabbi Fohrman: My pleasure. If you want to open up, we can stick around for a few minutes if you want to open up the floor to folks to chat or if they have questions or comments, we can stick around a bit. I'll kind of look through the chat just a little bit as you guys talk, but if somebody wants to take the floor, you can gingerly unmute yourself.

Audience Member: Thank you. Thank you very much, Rabbi Fohrman.

Rabbi Fohrman: My pleasure. Thank you.

Audience Member: Rabbi Fohrman, you're reminding me of the series you did on Refa'einu.

Rabbi Fohrman: Yeah. That's true.

Audience Member: It was wonderful. I listened to it over and over again.

Rabbi Fohrman: Thank you. You're talking about the podcast series? The audio series?

Audience Member: The audio series was amazing.

Rabbi Fohrman: Well, thank you so much. This was a piece it intersects with that. The ideas of Refa'einu and then Marah. In fact, one of the points that you see here is that the daughter of Pharaoh, by the way, really had to do two things to save Moses. The first thing she had to do was extend out her arm, physically, but the next thing that she had to do is that she saw there was this child crying and that he had a need which she couldn't respond to. The need was to nurse the child and the child needs to be given to drink. So she leverages that, too and finds a way to nurse the child, even if she can't do it.

Interestingly, at the Red Sea, at that moment when Moses' outstretched arm saves the people physically from harm, the way she saved Moses from harm, the very next challenge that faces him and the people is what are the people going to drink? There, Moses has to leverage something else, again, the attempt to appeal to the parent in heaven to nurse the child, as it were. Those are the waters of Marah that God makes sweet. Again, like this moment of the daughter of Pharaoh. But, yeah, that was a nice piece.

For those of you who are wondering what we're talking about. The Refa'einu piece is something which is available on Aleph Beta.

Audience Member: It was very good.

Rabbi Fohrman: on the story of Marah, on the notion that God is our healer. I kind of related it to the Coronavirus. That's available on Aleph Beta too.

By the way, you can check out either Aleph Beta or 929 for continuing Tanach material. Rabbi Mintz, do you want to tell people, who may not be familiar with 929, what's available there for them? You have to unmute yourself because I muted everybody.

Rabbi Mintz: What we do is we post content on a chapter of Tanach every single day. On July 15th, 2018, we started with the first chapter of Genesis and now we're over 500 chapters in. We're in the Book of Hosea. What we do is that every single day we post the chapter in English. We post actually in audio if you want to just listen to the chapter in English. We post short articles, all 400 words, so they're bite size, so it's easy to appreciate them. We have videos and we have audios. Rabbi David Silber has audios on the entire Five Books of Moses and many of the books of Tanach and we're up to Hosea.

We're looking forward on February 2nd, 2022, we are going to have material in English on every single chapter of Tanach. In addition to that, what we've noticed especially now, in the last few months during COVID, is that people have a tremendous thirst. I know, Rabbi Fohrman, you are leading the way in this for Tanach. What we're doing is that we're posting on our Facebook page, Facebook Live and then sometimes just Facebook videos, of conversations that we're having on Tanach.

I just had a conversation with Rachel Sharansky Danziger. She's actually the daughter of Natan Sharansky; Natan and Avital Sharansky. We talked about wanderers. You know, you think about, in today's world, how complicated the world is. We talked about Abraham, Jacob and King David, as people who never were set, they were always wandering from place to place. What that means in their stories and what that means going forward.

We're now recording a series on the idea of churban (destruction) and what destruction means as we prepare for Tisha B'Av. So make sure to check our website, again,, but also to check our Facebook page and our social media because each week we post videos on Tanach, on the kinds of stories that we talked about today. Hopefully, they carry with them some of the lessons that we talked about today and that we all can take home with us every single day.

So thank you very much, Rabbi Fohrman, for allowing us to join you in this lecture today. We look forward to partnering with you many times in the future and to learn together. Because that's most important of all, to be able to learn together, to be able to teach together.

Rabbi Fohrman: Absolutely. So, Rabbi Mintz, thanks so much for the invitation to do this. It really was a lot of fun. For the rest of you guys, we've got a lot of folks here. You are welcome to if you want to follow up, feel free to send comments to and we'll take a look at them there and do our best to get back to you. Although we sometimes find ourselves besieged by e mail, but we will do our best.

If you'd also like, you can go to Aleph Beta, if you're not already in our mailing list, create a free account. You'll sign up. We'll get you videos every week and we'll also be able to keep you informed of opportunities like this to get together.

So, Rabbi Mintz, thank you so much.

Rabbi Mintz: Thank you and look forward to learning with you in the future. Be well.

Rabbi Fohrman: Bye bye.

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