To Care for One

In the beginning of this week’s parsha, Parshas Beshalach, we find a newly freed Israelite nation at the beginning of what would soon become a forty year journey through the wilderness.  The people had left Egypt and were about to come face to face with a sea on one side and an Egyptian army on the other side.  As we well know, Hashem saved the Bnei Yisrael when they crossed the sea on damp land, while the Egyptians drowned in the churning waters of Yam Suf.   After this miraculous salvation, the Bnei Yisrael sang their glorious shirah, a poetic and moving song of joy and thanks to Hashem.

There is one pasuk in the beginning of the parsha that seems to be out of place.  In the midst of recounting the route the Israelites took on their way out of Egypt, the verse tells us that:  וַיִּקַּח מֹשֶׁה אֶת-עַצְמוֹת יוֹסֵף, עִמּוֹ:  כִּי הַשְׁבֵּעַ הִשְׁבִּיעַ אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, לֵאמֹר, פָּקֹד יִפְקֹד אֱלֹהִים אֶתְכֶם, וְהַעֲלִיתֶם אֶת-עַצְמֹתַי מִזֶּה אִתְּכֶם – And Moshe took the bones of Yosef with him, for he (Yosef) had made the Children of Israel swear, saying, ‘G-d will surely remember you, and you shall bring my bones up from here with you.’ (Ex.13:19)

Moshe’s monumental task of leading this nation is beginning.  He will lead them to Har Sinai and deliver the Torah to them, he will teach them, guide them, and shape the nation.  He will pray for them repeatedly as they transgress one-too-many-a-time.  He will lose his right to enter Eretz Yisrael because of the quarrelsomeness of the people. 

Moshe Rabbeinu was a leader par excellence, always taking care of the needs of the klal.  Yet the mark of a leader is not only in his ability to meet the needs of a group.  A great leader, while always focused on the needs of the whole and the needs of the many, never forgets about the individual.  Despite all he had to do at the time of the Exodus and all he would continue to do in the coming years as their leader, “Moshe took the bones of Yosef with him.”  He never forgot the needs of one.

“When a Mirrer talmid passed away, leaving behind a large family, R’ Nosson Tzvi Finkel zt’l, Rosh Yeshiva Yeshivas Mir Yerushalayim, called the widow and promised her that he was now her children’s ‘father.’  He told the children that any time they had anything to discuss, they should write to him, and he would write back.

“Sure enough, the children wrote letters to the Rosh Yeshiva, and he wrote them back in longhand.  After a few of the boys in the family received letters from R’ Nosson Tzvi, the Rosh Yeshiva received a complaint from a six year old girl in the family, who felt left out at not having received a letter.  R’ Nosson Tzvi took a piece of paper and wrote her a short note, adding a picture of a heart to show that his heart was with the family.  This girl, who is now married with a family of her own, still cherishes the note that carried her through many a difficult moment.” (Rav Nosson Tzvi, Artscroll, p.421-422)

Moshe Rabbeinu was ever focused on the big picture and on Am Yisrael as a nation.  And at the same time, Moshe Rabbeinu was focused on each individual

The lesson to us is an important one.  We too must always be involved with the klal and tzarchei tzibur, the needs of the community.  But our community and glorious nation is made up of many individuals and while we strive to build the klal, we must always take care to remember, care for, and build up each and every one.

וַיִּקַּח מֹשֶׁה אֶת-עַצְמוֹת יוֹסֵף, עִמּוֹ – And Moshe took the bones of Yosef out of Egypt with him

בברכת בשורות טובות ושבת שלום,


  • Carol
    Posted at 08:17h, 21 January

    If we attend and care for the individual, the whole becomes better as well.
    Thank you for making that distinction.

  • Jana
    Posted at 10:06h, 21 January

    Inspiring and so well said, as always. Thank you.

  • Sharon
    Posted at 10:27h, 22 January

    Beautifully said, Michal. Wonderful thoughts with which to enter Shabbat
    Thank you

  • Marla
    Posted at 11:32h, 22 January

    Beautifully written. Miss you, Shabbat Shalom from Florida. Keep warm and safe.