Pharaoh was constantly advised by his astrologers on how to govern his country. Pertaining to the ‘Jewish problem’ they correctly foresaw that the future redeemer of the Jewish people would suffer punishment by water. Pharaoh erroneously thought that he could manipulate this to his advantage by casting all Jewish boys the Nile as soon as they were born. Many families were devastated by this authorized infanticide, and sooner chose to abstain from marital relations than have their newborns killed. Amram, the venerated leader of his time, also withdrew from his wife Yocheved and went so far as to divorce her. Their daughter Miriam guided by a prophetic vision, successfully convinced her father to remarry his former wife. As the verse states “A man went from the house of Levi (Amram) and married a daughter of Levi (Yocheved)”.
Why is the persona of Amram made obscure and vague by circumlocution, instead of Amram he is referenced as a “A man from the house of Levi”? We know the Torah is terse not using an extra letter, so why communicate is such a roundabout manner when a short proper noun would be more concise?
Why does the verse say that Amram “went”? What does this convey? Wouldn’t it suffice to say “A man from the house of Levi married the daughter of Levi”?
No one likes to admit they made a mistake. It takes great humility to acknowledge that one has erred. Amram was chastened by his five year old daughter, who categorically castigated him that he is worse than the wicked despot Pharaoh. She reasoned; Pharaoh has only decreed to destroy the boys, you father, by separating from mother would produce no males and no females, indirectly annihilating all Jews.
Amram was a man. A man who realized that he is human and thus prone to error. A man who can concede he miscalculates. A man who can accept rebuke from a five year old. That is why he is referred to as “A man from the house of Levi”. In the language of the Torah being called a man is an accolade.
Where did Amram draw his strength from? What gave him the ability to be manly? He went. Amram was a moving person, constantly looking to grow spiritually. Yes he might have slipped but this was only a blip, slowing down his ever forward progression. It was this continued movement which gave him the fortitude to listen to Miriam’s wise recommendation and remarry his former wife.
What mistakes have you made and how did you move past them?
Rabbi Dov Berish Weidenfeld (1881–1965) was the Rabbi of Tshebin, Poland and after World War II spent his final years in Jerusalem. His principal work of Jewish law is titled “Dovev Meisharim”.
For the last years of his life, the Tchebiner Rov’s health seriously declined, and he was instructed by his doctors to take a rest every afternoon. Someone was put in charge during this time to ensure that the Rov was not disturbed.
One Shabbos afternoon, the Rov lay down to rest and for some reason nobody was on duty. Whilst the Rov was resting there was a knock at the door. The Rov knowing how important the rest was for his health, chose to disregard the knock. But the knock became louder and more insistent and it soon became impossible to ignore. The Rov dragged himself with difficulty and opened the door to find an eager young child.
“Are you the Tchebiner Rov?” asked the youth.
Upon receiving an affirmative reply, the boy continued: “My Rebbe in school, told us that if the Tchebiner Rov tests anyone, on this week’s learning, they will receive a bollicker (candy) Will the Rov farher (test) me?”
The Rov warmly invited the child in, sat him down, and tested him as requested. When he had finished, the Rov gently pointed out to the child that in future he should consider that adults and elderly people are possibly resting on Shabbos afternoon, and he should think twice before knocking on their doors
To this the child replied. “I am aware of that and would not normally knock on anyone’s else’s door, but I was sure that the Tchebiner Rov would be learning and not resting”.
For the rest of his life the Rov did not rest on Shabbos afternoon. He accepted the child’s critique, who perceived that its was unbecoming of a person of his stature to be resting.He exerted himself to meet a child’s expectations.