Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky writes:
- The beginning of this week’s parshah describes Yetzias Mitzrayim. Jews gathered their possessions and took gold and silver from the Egyptians. One person, however, was preoccupied with other treasures. “Moshe took Yosef’s bones with him, for Yosef had made the children of Israel swear, saying, ‘Hashem will remember you, and you shall bring up my bones from here with you.’” (Shemos 13:19)
The Midrash explains a verse in Mishlei (10:8): “A man with a wise heart shall choose mitzvos.” “This verse,” says the Midrash, “refers to Moshe during the Exodus. While the entire nation was busy collecting gold, silver, and precious stones from their former masters, Moshe was busy looking for the remains of Yosef, the pioneering sojourner who laid the groundwork for Jewish survival in exile.”
An obvious question arises. Why is Moshe lauded as a man searching for mitzvos and praised as one who has special wisdom? Didn’t the Jewish people gather gold and silver at the request of Hashem? The Torah openly commands the people in Shemos 11:2 “that each man ask his fellow (Egyptian) man and each woman ask her fellow (Egyptian) woman for gold and silver utensils.”
If that is the case, both Moshe and the Jews were all doing mitzvos. Why then, is Moshe considered “wise of heart”?
There are many, many mitzvos to do. Some are very enjoyable and easily performed. Some even mete out to us personal gain and honor. Others, however, require self-sacrifice and hard work. The mitzvah of retrieving gold and silver was quite honorable. However, there may have been much self-motivation involved. We do not know where the actual wealth finally ended up. It may have been contributed to the Mishkon, Tabernacle, or it could have served as a portion of the Golden Calf.
But one thing we do know: the bones of Yosef that were taken by Moshe served as an inspiration to a generation that faced hardship, questions, and uncertainty. Even today, those bones, interred in Shechem (Nablus), still do. That is, thanks to Moshe, the man of wise heart who had a vision of the future.
The preparations for our Matching Scholarship Campaign are well underway. The goal of this campaign is to raise money for families unable to pay full tuition. Some of you may even be recipients of this kindness. The success of this campaign is dependent on the hard work of parent solicitation – reaching out to friends and family, or making random phone calls for the school to names assigned to you.
A mother approached me this week and shared how difficult it is to solicit and make phone calls. True. Yet the mission obligates us. Moshe Rabbeinu faces a similar dilemma in this week’s parshah – searching for Yosef’s remains while everyone else is gathering the riches of Mitzrayim. Moshe’s job was much more difficult, but he felt obligated to repay a debt of hakoras hatov to Yosef for all that he had done to keep us alive while in Mitzrayim.
I have the honor and merit to solicit people on a regular basis, many of whom have little or no association with the school. After a recent successful solicitation, our school president, Mr. Berlin, asked me, “Why would someone who does not have any children in the school or a connection to Providence give a substantial donation to our campaign?”
I explained that Klal Yisroel is known as a holy and charitable nation. These donors understand that “the more you give, the more you get.” Hashem says, “If you take care of Mine, I will take care of yours,” and they donate to causes like helping a small day school in Providence stay afloat.
We all pray daily for parnossoh, sustenance, and success in our efforts to raise children. Many things we do in life are easy and require little effort, or perhaps due to our talents Hashem makes them easier for us to accomplish. Others require our hard work and effort and may even be uncomfortable. But we perform them anyway – as a debt of hakoras hatov, thanks and gratitude – to the school.
As we enter these final weeks before the campaign, we ask our parents and friends who are beneficiaries of the school to stretch themselves both in their support of the campaign and in reaching out to others asking them to support the campaign.
We are here to help you with these solicitations. Start by setting up a fundraising page with a goal. Send out solicitations to family and friends. We are happy to provide you with suggested emails and graphics to support your personal solicitations. Please also feel free to ask us for lists of people to call by sending a request to [email protected]. Please remember that this year’s campaign replaces the annual raffle and all donations of $100 and above will entitle you and all other donors to a chance to win our grand prize.
Thank you for your support. Please do contact me with any questions at [email protected].
Rabbi Peretz Scheinerman