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Moral Courage In the Heart of Darkness

How One Woman, the Daughter of a Tyrant, Changed History

41 min

Class Summary:

She is one of the most unexpected heroes of the Torah. Without her, Moses might not have lived. The whole story of civilization would have been different. Yet she was not an Israelite.

She had nothing to gain, and everything to lose, by her courage. Yet she seems to have had no doubt and experienced no misgivings. If it was Pharaoh who afflicted the children of Israel, it was another member of his own family who saved the decisive vestige of hope: Pharaoh's daughter.

Who was this person? Why did she go bathe in the Nile River? What is the symbolism of her extended arm? How did she know the infant was Jewish? Who did she end up marrying?

A reflection on a single act, performed in a single moment, by a single individual, which transformed history.

Please leave your comment below!

  • MAZH

    Mrs. and Zvi Homnick -10 years ago


    Is there a source for saying that Basya was moser nefesh to save Moshe? We don't see any reason to think that she risked her life. After all, Moshe was raised in the palace! Where did Pharaoh think he appeared from? Pharaoh even had Moshe on his lap in the story with the Malach pushing his hand to the coal rather than to the crown. Moshe was white, the Egyptians are black.

    Why say that Pharaoh was likely to kill his offspring unless there is a source that said he did; one could say, just as well and it fits with the information that we have, that Basya was his beloved daughter and when she brought home the baby her father indulged her.

    As for how Basya knew he was a Jewish baby, Rashi said long ago that Egyptians are black and ugly. Presumably Moshe was white and beautiful (the house was filled with light, and he glowed). And of course, he was circumcised. Although Yosef had the Egyptians circumcised, they probably stopped when the famine was over.

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  • DB

    Dovid Benveniste -12 years ago

    G-d give Sandra Strength in whatever she does. May she be a light to all the nations, and ourselves,to persevere the final moments without regret for that which we are powerless to change....

    Hazak uBaruk!

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  • Y

    YYJ -13 years ago

    To Michoel
    Great question. The Rogotchover Gaon explains this as well. The term "Yeor" used here refers to the canals created by humans to draw the waters from the Nile River to irrigate their fields, hence she could not use the Yeor to put Moshe there.

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  • M

    Michoel -13 years ago

    Question # 2 on Rogatchover
    Rabbi Jacobson,

    Thank you for an excellent shiur.

    Now for my question: how can Rogachover say that Yocheved was not permitted to use Nile to save her son when Rambam clearly states in Avodah Kochavim, Chapter Eight halocha 1 - "It is permitted to derive benefit from anything that has not been manipulated by man or that was not made by man, even though it was worshiped. Therefore, it is permitted to benefit from mountains, hills, trees - provided they were planted originally with the intent of harvesting their fruit - springs which provide water for many people, and animals, despite their having been worshiped by pagans. It is permitted to partake of fruits that were worshiped in the place where they grow and to partake of such an animal."

    Thank you in advance for your response.

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  • B

    Bentzion -13 years ago

    Batya is changing history?
    You sad that "If Batya would not act to save Moshe than want be a saver for Jewish people. I think is wrong. As Mordechai told to Esther "If not you, G-D will bring redemption from other places.
    Thank you.
    P.S. Your lecturers are great.

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  • יי

    יוסף יצחק -13 years ago

    להרב לייזער מישולבין
    לכאורה משמע שצף מעצמו
    וי"ל על פי הידוע שלא יאונה לצדיק כל און

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  • L

    leizer -13 years ago

    question on Rogatchover
    By hashgocho protis, minutes before watching seeing your shiur I learned the Sicha with rogechover's explanation. But there was a detail I couldn't get. A klotz kashye:
    After she nullified the avoda zara how did the teiva float into the river? I didn't get it in the sicha. I realized you didn't touch on this detail, may you have an idea?

    Thank you

    Leizer Mishulovin

    P.S. Needless to say your weekly shiurim are above and beyond ka"h. I use them in droshes as well.

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  • AH

    Alizah Hochstead -13 years ago

    These shiurim on line are a highlight of my weekly learning. Hope someday you can come and give a shiur here in Efrat.

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  • K

    Kayo -13 years ago

    And I , too, weep silently
    In the confused, destroyed Jewish lineage due to false conversions, I see a Jewish baby weeping silently, and I, too, weep silently.

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  • BW

    Batya W. -13 years ago

    Brilliant lecture as usual. I appreciate the psychological analysis and lessons of the biblical narrative that you extract and expound on. They are applicable to us on an individual level, and on a wider scale, our society. Your webcasts in general are intellectually stimulating and spiritually nourishing.
    May Gd give you the strength and energy to keep them coming!

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  • A

    Anonymous -13 years ago

    thank you so much for this insightful and meaningful class

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  • A

    Admin -13 years ago

    To Michoel
    Thank you. We fixed it.

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  • M

    Michoel -13 years ago

    Bibliography is wrong
    Please update the bibliography its from parshas Miketz. Same is true for last week's curriculum

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Class Shemos

Rabbi YY Jacobson

  • December 20, 2010
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  • 13 Tevet 5771
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Dedicated by David and Eda Schottenstein In the loving memory of Alta Shula Swerdlov And in merit of Yetta Alta Shula, "Aliyah," Schottenstein

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