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A Stretch of Reality

R Pesach Siegel

Parshat Shemos

Dec 20, 2013

A Stretch of Reality

Every year around this time we find ourselves faced with a mystery. Why did she do it? Why did she stretch out her arm?


Pharaoh decreed that any male child born among the Jews was to be thrown into the Nile River. Moshe Rabeinu’s mother succeeded in hiding him for three months. When she was no longer able to do so, she fashioned a teivah, a floating cradle, and cast him into the Nile. Basya, the daughter of Pharaoh, heard his cries from afar. She extended her arm. It was an impossible reach. Miraculously, her hand reached the teivah. She retrieved the baby and raised him as her own.


Imagine, a baseball flying high over right field. It’s going out of the park. The right fielder, running with all his might, matches the speed of the ball. As he nears the wall he leaps into the air, flies up twenty, thirty feet, sticks his glove up as high as it will go, and pulls the ball down. An impossible catch, but why in the world did he jump? Is he meshugeh?


Although not commonplace, miracles do intrude upon our reality. But how did Basya know her arm would stretch? What was she thinking?


And it happens again and again and again, a few examples.


In Mitzrayim, babies were being murdered at birth, if they somehow survived birth; they were thrown into the water, or killed to provide blood for Pharaoh’s bath (to cure Pharaoh’s leprosy). The Medrash tells us that if there was a cavity in a wall due to a brick shortage, a baby was used to fill it.


Every iota of sense screams out, “Don’t have babies”. Great people subscribed to this unerring logic. Amram, the leader of the Jewish people separated from his wife.


Our sages tell us that the mirrors of the righteous women were used to fashion the kiyor, the laver, used to purify the hands and feet of the Kohanim in the Mishkan. After returning home from back-breaking labor, the women would use these mirrors to entertain their husbands. They took their minds away from their bitter reality, and thus ensured the continuity of the Jewish family unit.  The women had no sense of reality.


When Moshe Rabeinu went up on Mount Sinai, he left this world for forty days. He had taken no provisions along with him. No one can survive for so long without food and water. On the day of his awaited return, he was nowhere to be seen. Our sages relate that Satan fooled the people. He conjured up an image before their eyes of Moshe lying prone and lifeless. They were in a desert, all alone, without their savior and provider, and they lost all hope. This, in turn, led to a movement that fashioned a golden idol in the form of a calf.


The women did not participate in the service of the Golden Calf, not a single one of them. They waited for Moshe Rabeinu to return. Though his return would defy the known facts, they waited faithfully.


Emissaries were sent to spy out the Land of Israel. What they witnessed there filled them with terror. The people of the land were of gigantic proportions. The spies appeared as if they were ants in their eyes. A plague filled the land, and funerals abounded. They returned and reported on their findings. The people wept. Their dream had been shattered. They cannot hope to enter the land. Unless they wished to wander in the desert for all eternity, they must return to Mitzrayim.


Yet again, it was the women who said, “The Lord took us out of Mitzrayim and promised us the Land of Israel.” The words of the spies were quite convincing, yet their arguments did not penetrate their consciousness. It was as if they had never spoken. The men died out in the desert, over the passage of forty years. The women entered into the Land of Israel.


Did you ever hear the legend of a mother who lifted a car off of her baby? Well, in Lawrenceville, Georgia, on April 9, 1982, Angela Cavallo, summoned by a neighbor, rushed out to find her son Tony pinned under a 1964 Chevy Impala. Angela grabbed the side of the car with both hands and pulled up with all her strength. She raised the car four inches, while two neighbors dragged the boy out. She held the car up for about five minutes. Adrenaline rush, perhaps? An adrenaline rush would not have lasted for five minutes.


She didn’t reason, calculate or think. It was her son under that car.


We are born into a very confusing existence. It is our mission to uncover the deeply buried truth. There are so many competing messages, so much whirling static. The eyes can be fooled by illusion. The mind can be led astray by mind games or false evidence.


The heart always knows.


A woman was created to be a helpmate. It is specifically in this area that man requires help. He needs someone, his “other half”, who is guided primarily by the heart. One who is better equipped to see through the clouds of distortion.


What was Basya thinking? She was thinking, “There’s a baby!“ Her thoughts were not within the realm of the possible or the impossible. “There’s a baby! I must save the baby!”


Thus, she drew miraculous ability from the realm where everything is possible.

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