Infinite Infant Potential by Sammy Schwartz


In this week’s Parashah, Paroh’s daughter Batya finds Moshe in the river and brings him into her home. Miriam then approaches Batya and asks her if she would like a Jewish maid to feed the baby. Rashi cites a Midrash which states that at first, Batya brought Moshe Egyptian nurses to feed him, but Moshe refuses to drink from their milk. This was because it is not fitting that the same mouth that would speak “mouth to mouth” with Hashem should be nursed by a Nochrit.

The Shulchan Aruch states that the Halachah is that a baby is not forbidden to drink the milk of a Nochrit; however, it is preferred that the baby be nursed by a Yehudit. The Vilna Gaon cites the above Rashi as the source for this Halachah. Questioning the Vilna Gaon, Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky wonders how this Rashi can be the source for this Halachic ruling. The reason why Moshe could not drink from a Nochrit does not apply to us—we are not going to be talking mouth to mouth with Hashem!

Rav Kaminetsky answers that we can learn from here a fundamental lesson. Every child has the potential to be great like Moshe Rabbeinu. That is why a Jewish child should not be fed by a Nochrit, because each child has the potential to attain this high level of spirituality. Even if a child will not be able to be at the same level as Moshe, if the child lives up to his fullest potential then he is considered a great person. A parent must teach their children this lesson; that they have great potential and can become Torah leaders.

Rav Netanel Dadoun adds that we see this idea expressed in another Rashi (Shemot 2:3) which describes the crib that Tziporah put her Moshe in. Rashi writes that the crib was made of tar on the outside and clay on the inside, unlike Noach’s ark which was coated with tar on the outside and inside. Rashi explains that this is because Tziporah treated her son like the Tzadik he would later become from the time of his birth.

This treatment is also shown by Chanah to her son Shmuel. When Shaul calls upon Shmuel’s spirit, Shmuel appears wearing a cloak. The Midrash explains that this cloak was special as it was the same cloak that Shmuel’s mother gave him when he was born and it grew with Shmuel as he grew. Radak and other commentators explain that this cloak was the type of cloak that dignified people and leaders of Torah wore at the time. Chanah realized from the time of Shmuel’s birth that her son had the potential to be like Moshe and achieve spiritual greatness in his own way. The cloak grew with Shmuel because as Shmuel grew in stature, so did his ambition. Shmuel always strove to be greater and reach his maximum potential.

As evidenced by Moshe, Tziporah, and Chanah, every Jewish parent should strive to encourage a child to reach their full potential of reaching spiritual heights.

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