> Weekly Torah Portion > Intermediate > What's Bothering Rashi?

Now You Will See


Shmot (Exodus 1:1-6:1 )

by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek

At the end of the Parsha, after Moses had gone to Pharaoh, as God had commanded, and yet Pharaoh refused to free the nation, Moses voices his despair:

"Why have you done evil to this people?"(Exodus 5:22)

Exodus 6:1

"And Hashem said to Moses 'Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh, for by [My] strong hand he will let them go.' "



"Now you will see, etc.": Rashi: You have questioned My ways, not like Abraham, to whom I said "for through Isaac you will have descendents" and afterwards I said to him "Bring him up as a sacrifice," yet he did not question My ways. Therefore "Now you will see. Only that which will be done to Pharaoh will you see, but not (later) that which will be done to the kings of the seven nations when I will bring them (Israel) to the Land."



Rashi is telling us that God is chastising Moses for his criticism of God's ways ("Why have you done evil to this People?"). Moses didn't have the same unquestioning faith in Hashem as Abraham did. And for that he would be punished. His punishment: Not being allowed to bring the People of Israel into the Land of Canaan. Rashi's interpretation is clearly based on God's words "Now you will see..." Now, but not later.

But on this explanation we can ask a basic question.

Your Question:



A Question: We are all familiar with the reason that Moses was not allowed to enter the Land of Israel. In the Book of Numbers (chapter 20) we are told the story of the People's request for water in the desert and of Moses hitting the stone in an effort to satisfy their need. There it says:

"Because you did not believe in Me to sanctify Me in the eyes of the Children of Israel, therefore you will not bring this congregation to the Land..." (Numbers 20:12)

How then can Rashi say about our verse that the reason Moses did not lead the People into Israel was that he showed a lack of faith in his reaction to Pharaoh's worsening the conditions of slavery?

Can you think of an answer?

Your Answer:




A Possible Answer: In order to understand this better we must analyze the man, Moses. We are told that when he grew up (in Pharaoh's palace) Moses went out to see his brothers:

"And it was in those days when Moses was grown that he went out to his brothers and saw their sufferings." (Exodus 2:11)

Rashi here comments that he wanted to identify with their suffering. The lines of Moses' personality are well described in the Torah. He was a man who intervened to save others (see the next verses 13-17). He was man who could not tolerate the pain of others (see Numbers 11:15). Here, too, we see the expression of this trait. Moses is terribly upset by seeing that the suffering of his people had increased - and not decreased - after he followed God's command to meet with Pharaoh. This was his heartrending outcry "Why have You brought harm to this people?"

When we look at the story of Moses' sin in Numbers 20 we see that the people voiced a bitter complaint. They had no water to drink. Moses receives instructions from Hashem to take his staff to the rock. Moses hits it twice. The word "pa'amayim" ("twice") implies an urge to get things done quickly, in haste, without delay. (See Judah's speech to his father in Genesis 43:10.) Here we see Moses' character trait of his inability to tolerate the suffering of others, even for a moment, come into play. His overwhelming desire to get water to the people interfered with his ability to follow God's word to the letter.


Now we can understand our Rashi. Moses' inability to tolerate the pain of his people, as expressed in our verse, turned out to be his fatal flaw. Because of this same trait he sinned at the Rock, for which he was banned from entering Eretz Yisrael.

The noble trait of the leader to care for his people can be a two edged sword, when this is opposition to the word of God.


Shabbat Shalom,
Avigdor Bonchek

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