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Partner in Pain

Written by Rabbi Yehoshua Alt, 25/7/2020

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Partner in Pain

When Parohs daughter opened the basket and saw Moshe it says , behold, a youth was cryingreferring to Moshe.[1] The Gemara[2] questions these words , since the Torah called him a child ()[3] which could mean an infant and then it calls him a youth implying an older person. The Gemara explains , he was an infant but his voice was like that a youth (i.e. much deeper). R Meir Shapiro gave the following explanation: People cry, whether they are babies or adults. What is the difference between a baby crying and a mature person crying? A baby cries for selfish reasonsbecause he is hungry, needs a diaper change and the like. A baby is unable to cry for others, in contrast to a mature person. means that although he was a child, his voice was like that of one who was older. That is to say, although he was saved by Basya, he still felt the pain of his brethren in the enslavement.[4] This is why he was crying![5] 


R Hanoch Teller writes a story he personally witnessed regarding a young man, Jamie, who had recently become Torah observant and went to immerse in a busy Mikva in Yerushalayim. As he walked towards the Mikva, he held his hands over his arms, attempting to cover his tattoos. As he stepped into the Mikva, he slipped and the tattoos that lined his biceps were now exposed for all to see. At an earlier time, Jamie had viewed his tattoos with pride, but that afternoon he felt humiliation. An elderly Jew stepped forward and in a heavily accented English declared, Look here, I also have a tattoo. Stretching out his frail arm, the man pointed to the row of numbers tattooed on his arm. It seems we have both come a long way.


Moshe told Yisro , when the people have a matter, one comes to him and he (Moshe) judges between the two people[6] The wording is inconsistent as it begins in the pluraland then continues in the singular . Why doesnt it say , in the plural, just as it began in the plural? The Chassan Sofer[7] (1835-1883) explains that when someone came to Moshe with a problem it became Moshes problem, since he cared[8] and felt their pain.[9] So, people came to Moshe with their issues ( ) and then , the issues became Moshes. refers to Moshe, not the ones who came to him. Consequently, it is in the singular.


R Zeira was asked , with what did you merit longevity. Among what he mentioned was , I didnt rejoice when my friend stumbled.[10] What is the novelty of this, since this is basic decency? R Yitzchak Vorka[11] (1779-1848) explains it in a different light: I couldnt be happy with my Simcha while my friend was going through a difficult time.[12]

Rabbi Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R Mordechai Friedlander Ztzl for close to five years. He received Semicha from R Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. Rabbi Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications and is the author of the Sefer, Fascinating Insights: Torah Perspectives On Unique Topics. His writings inspire people across the spectrum of Jewish observance to live with the vibrancy and beauty of Torah. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.

[1] Shemos 2:6.

[2] Sota 12b.

[3] The Pasuk (Shemos 2:6) reads , she saw the boy and behold a youth was crying.

[4] Upon hearing the pain of one of his Chassidim, the Rebbe said What a great tragedy. I dont have answers for you but I can cry with you.

[5] This is just as it says , he saw the burden of his brethren (Shemos 2:11). We also see this idea when he saved the daughters of Yisro from an encounter at the well (Shemos 2:17).

[6] Shemos 18:16.

[7] The Chassan Sofer was R Shmuel Ehenfeld, a grandson of the Chassam Sofer. is an acronym for , the Chidushei Torah of the grandson of the Chassam Sofer.  

[8] On the night R Yehoshua Hartman got engaged, he told his Rebbe, R Yitzchak Hutner, about these plans. On this night of his engagement, he arrived home at 3:30 in the morning. At 3:45 in the morning, R Hutner called him and wished him Mazel Tov! Then he asked, Why didnt you call me? R Hartman replied I was planning on calling at 830 a.m. when it is a normal hour. R Hutners reply: If it was your father or mother, would you wait until then also?!

[9] A catholic cleric from 15th century Spain relates what occurred during the Spanish expulsion in 1492: Wealthy Jews spent their last coin to secure passage on the final ships leaving Spain for poorer Jews who were in danger of being left behind to forced baptism.

[10] Megila 28a.

[11] He was introduced to the world of Chassidus by his father. He became a devoted Chassid of R Dovid Lelover, the Chozeh of Lublin, and R Simcha Bunim of Pshischa. R Dovid Lelover would travel with him to the courts of Tzadikim which is how he became a student of the Chozeh and R Simcha Bunim. After the death of R Simcha Bunim, he chose the Kotzker Rebbe as his mentor, becoming the Kotzker's closest friend and disciple, together with R Yitzchak Meir of Ger (known as the Chidushei Harim) and R Chanoch of Alexander. Among the Vorker Rebbe's students, there are known to have been 114 leading Chassidic Rebbes. His Torah thoughts and anecdotes about his life were collected in a Sefer entitled Ohel Yitzchak. R Yitzchak Vorkas son was the founder of Amshinov Chassidus.

[12] R Yitzchak Vorka commented on , the Kohen shall remain contaminated until evening (Bamidbar 19:7), which it says by the Parah Aduma, that the essence of the Parah Adumapurifying those who are spiritually impureis the concept of , love your fellow like yourself (Vayikra 19:18). His grandson, R Mendel of Vorka, explained that this is because the priest who was involved in the purification process himself became impure by the same process that purified the person who came to him. Giving up something yourself in order to help another is the ultimate love for ones fellow man. When one truly loves another, one feels pleasure in all the sacrifices made for him.   

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