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Dvar for Shemot (Exodus 1:1-6:1)

The second perek (chapter) of Shemot tells of a nameless couple having an unnamed baby (spoiler alert: Moshe), who runs away from Egypt because he kills an evil Egyptian and is exposed as a Hebrew sympathizer. Moshe helps Yitro’s daughters water their flock, and they tell their father that “an Egyptian man saved us,” which prompts an invitation to their home and marriage to one of the daughters, Tziporah. Rabbi Yochanan Zweig asks: Why does the Torah refrain from naming Moshe’s parents when the very name of this book is “names”? Also, how does Tziporah merit marrying Moshe and being mentioned by name in this story?

Rabbi Zweig explains that there is one theme woven throughout this story. When Yitro’s daughters told their father that an Egyptian man saved them, they were not referring to Moshe. Yitro’s daughters were referring to the Egyptian man that Moshe killed, which led him to flee and end up at their well. This recognition that G-d orchestrates events for our benefit is what merited Moshe to marry Tziporah. G-d’s backstage guidance is also evident during the story of Moshe’s birth. When recounting the events that led to the Jewish people’s emancipation, the actors’ names are less important than the roles they play. We learn about the personalities within our story when it is more appropriate.

This understanding that G-d is behind the scenes arranging events is a reminder of G-d’s efforts on our behalf. The more aware we are of actions executed on our behalf, the more grateful we can be for those efforts and for the gifts we have been given.