Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Shemot Parshah Riddle

Back at YIOP, I used to ask a parshah riddle before the Torah reading each Shabbat. This week's parshah motivated one of my favorites (or at least one that I remember). ]
The riddle is: Where is there an allusion to the Incredibles in this week's Parshah?

Answer: In Bat Par'oh. (Batya, Par'oh's daughter)
I'll explain. The Torah teaches us that as baby Moshe floated down the Nile, his little ark passed the party of Par'oh's daughter as she bathed in the river. Seeing the tiny floating lifeboat, she felt a pang of compassion and,
וַתִּשְׁלַח אֶת-אֲמָתָהּ וַתִּקָּחֶהָ
and sent her handmaid to fetch it
Yet, the word אמתה, which we translated as "her servant" is also the same word in Hebrew that means "forearm.". For this reason, the Midrash explains that an "incredible" event took place here.
ותשלח את אמתה - שנמשכה ידה ונתמתחה
"And she sent forth her arm" - that her arm stretched out and extended itself
Seeing the baby floating far away, she extended her arm towards him, and miraculously it kept extending and extending until it reached the girl.
I heard a nice thought about this miraculous Midrash today from Rav Gutel, the president of Orot. I Batya (the daughter of Par'oh) really was standing far away, why did she bother extending her arm? Did she really think that was indeed Elastigirl, capable of catching a ark floating far away?
Yet, the rabbis wished to convey to us the critical message that even when a task seems impossible, we still must make an effort. We must at least extend our arms, expressing a desire to make a difference. In truth, we might not be realistically able to expect a miracle, and most often it won't happen. But we must still make the effort, because we can never know when the Divine assistance may come to extend our reach and help us catch the next savior of the Jewish people.