12/19/2013

Shabbat Shemot

Candles Friday 20th at 4:11pm.
Havdalah 21st at 5:07pm.

We know a great deal about Yosef’s youth and his history from an early age. We know a great deal about Avraham after he arrived in Canaan. But the Torah tells us nothing about his early development. To be sure the Midrash offers us a range of stories but Midrash is not Torah. With Moshe too there are huge gaps in his life. Like Yosef we know a lot about his early life and after the Exodus we know a lot about his final forty years. But between the time when he ran away to Midian as a young man and the age of over seventy when he experienced the Divine presence at the burning bush, we know nothing, nothing of a half century’s worth of his life.

We might speculate that this time was spent in meditation, in preparing himself spiritually for his great task. But when he encounters the burning bush the Torah says, “He was frightened to look.” One commentator suggests that he had not at all been prepared for this moment and that was why he was surprised and frightened and tried his best to get out of the task he was given. In which case the question of the missing years is even more puzzling.

But there is a message. No matter what corrupt a society Avrahm came from, no matter what time Moshe had to spend in isolation amongst pagans, it was what they became that mattered. We all go through different periods in our lives, some more productive than others. But we must always be looking to grow. It is what we become that counts.