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    The name of Moses – Sh’mot

    Is the name “Moshe” passive, bearing the meaning, “the one who was drawn out of the waters”… or is it active, i.e. “the one who draws out (his people)”?

    The Biblical context appears to favour the first view, because the king’s daughter says, ki min hamayim meshitihu, “I drew him out of the water”.

    Samson Raphael Hirsch is unwilling to leave it at that but adds a further aspect. According to Hirsch, what Pharaoh’s daughter’s words imply is, “Moses must never forget that I drew him out… and because he was drawn out of the River Nile, he is to be a deliverer of others.”

    How aptly this illustrates Jewish ethics: The person who was once poor must alleviate poverty; the person who was once sick must ease others’ pain; the person who was once homeless must help others to find a home; the person who was once degraded must aid everyone else and never tolerate racism; the person who once lacked freedom must never rest until everyone else is free.

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