In this week's Parsha, we learn about the birth of Moshe Rabbeinu. The Posuk says (שמות ב':א'), that a man (Amram) from the house of Leivi took a woman (Yocheved) from the house of Leivi and they had a child. The next Posuk (שם פסוק ב') states "ותרא אותו כי טוב הוא," "she looked at him and he was 'good'." The obvious question is that all parents think that their child is good, so what was so special about this child that the Torah has to tell us that the mother thought "כי טוב הוא," that he was good? Rashi (שם) is clearly troubled by this point, and he thus quotes the Gemara in Sotah (דף י"ב.) which says that when Moshe was born, the house was filled with light, signifying that Moshe was indeed something special, prompting his mother's unique reaction.
There are different opinions in the Midrash, however, as to how exactly Moshe was special. Some state that it was that Moshe was born with a Bris Milah, which means he was תמים, he was pure and perfect, and needed no human intervention to get to this level. Another interpretation is that it was somehow clear that he was fit for prophecy and destined for glory. It is interesting to note that if one looks at the beginning of Sefer Bereishis, one will find that Hashem labeled each of His creations with His approval by saying "וירא אלקים כי טוב," "and Hashem saw that it was good" (בראשית א':ד',י"ב,י"ח,כ"א,כ"ה). Yet, one finds that on the sixth day, following the creation of man, there is no similar "stamp of approval" with Hashem saying that it was good. Some suggest that this "stamp of approval" therefore comes now, at the time of the birth of Moshe, the future leader and עבד ה', the servant of Hashem. At that point, Hashem finally says that humans are good, and this is the meaning of כי טוב הוא. Moshe's birth, then, is a kind of culmination of creation. According to others, though, the phrase כי טוב הוא simply means that Yocheved saw into the future that Moshe would be "good" for the Jewish people, and therefore, as the Ramban writes (שם), she saw that there would be a miracle and he would be saved.
It is possible to suggest, however, that we can learn another important lesson from this as well. The Torah's message here may be that Moshe had real parents, and was born like a normal child. The Torah thus stresses that Moshe's parents were regular people, who went out and got married, and he was born in the regular manner, producing a normal reaction from his mother. But despite his ordinary beginnings, Moshe attained great heights; he was the only person who ever spoke to Hashem "פנים אל פנים," "face to face," as the Torah states elsewhere (דברים ל"ד:י'). Moshe came from a modest background, yet he reached the highest human level possible and attained, in some respects, the status of a "super-human." This is in contrast to what other religions claim about their leaders, stating that they were born or lived supernaturally. This attitude is bleak, because it implies that one can not reach such a high level unless he was born specifically for that purpose. The Jewish viewpoint, however, is that anyone can strive to attain the level of Moshe and even beyond, as the Rambam (פרק ה' מהל' תשובה הלכה ב') says.
It Will Happen Anyway
by David Miller
We can learn many things from the birth and early life of Moshe, described briefly in this week's Parsha (שמות פרק ב'). We know little of Moshe before his rise to the position of leadership over the Jews, but we can learn from what we do know. The Torah says that "a man from the house of Leivi went out and married Leivi's daughter" (שם פסוק א'). Why point this out? Is it important to know that Moshe's parents got married?
We can actually see two things from here. First, we see clearly that Moshe was the descendant of man, of human beings, not of Hashem. Some religions claim that their leader or prophets were the sons of god. From this we can see that the Torah's goal is for man's elevation, not the reverse. The ideal is to be born as a man and rise to a higher spiritual level, not the reverse. Moshe thus serves as the example of this for all of us. We also can see that the Torah is not inherited; each individual has the potential to elevate himself through Torah as Moshe did, no matter how simple his beginning.
We then see that when Moshe gets older, he is raised in a palace, brought up there by Paroh's daughter (שם פסוק י'). Why was it necessary for Moshe to be brought up in a palace? Why is this a critical part of his background? It could be that if he had been brought up in a Jewish home, he would never have killed the Egyptian and run away. He would also never have saved Yisro's daughters, as described later (שם פסוק י"ז). Moshe was a brave man. If he had grown up as a slave, he would have thought like a slave, and he would have been passive instead of active. Instead, he learned to think and act like a person destined to be a leader.
Yosef also was a ruler of Egypt. He actually did spend time as a slave, but was nevertheless a very good ruler. The question is, then, why if Yosef, who had been a slave, was able to be a ruler, Moshe could not do the same thing. Why did Moshe have to grow up in the palace? Why couldn't he too come to his leadership position from being a slave just as Yosef did? Apparently, Hashem wanted Moshe to have the experience of being a prince, while for Yosef it did not matter.
It is possible to suggest that Hashem was preparing here for another way to show the Egyptians, as well as the Jews, that He could rule any way He wanted. It was He who could bring anyone to power and He who could take anyone out. He thus brought to power both Yosef and Moshe. With Yosef, Hashem showed that even the person described as the "נער עברי עבד," the young Hebrew slave (בראשית מ"א:י"ב), that is, even the lowest person, can come to power. With Moshe, He showed that one can come to power through heredity and up-bringing or through political victory, which in the end was the way it happened. One can come to power even if he previously had nothing to do with government; if Hashem wants him in power, he will get there. Moshe was actually supposed to die as an infant, based on Paroh's decree (שמות א':כ"ב), but instead he was given two different opportunities to achieve power: his royal up-bringing, and his role in the Jews' political victory. Interestingly, not only was Moshe supposed to die as an infant, but he actually shouldn't even have been born. Rashi (לשמות ב':א') tells us that his parents had gotten divorced and only because of Miriam's advice, they got remarried. This is what the Posuk (שם) means by saying that the man from the house of Leivi "went out;" if not for Miriam, then, Moshe would not exist. Yosef was thus "low class" and came to power, while Moshe was "low probability" and came to power. It doesn't really matter what the scenario is; if Hashem wants something to happen, it will happen. Even if one tries to stop it, it will happen anyway.