This past Friday the Alumni team celebrated the birth of a new baby boy to the proud parents Moshe and Rachel Prero of Chicago. Rachel is the 12th grade Senior/Alumni Specialist in the Midwest region and assists and guides Midwest NCSY’ers as they graduate high school by connecting them to Jewish programs in Israel and on college campuses. The brit milah is scheduled for this Friday, and we wish both baby and mommy well and a huge mazel tov to the entire Prero family.
As I found out the wonderful news, I began to think: Wow, look how beautiful this is! A new child brought into this world and not one member of the media taking pictures! Not one person betting on the time of birth, the weight of the baby, or the name that will be bestowed upon this new infant. Across the Atlantic however, doing things like that is perfectly normal, considering the events of this last week. A son was born to the English royal family and the whole country, or perhaps the whole world, broke out into both celebration and speculation about this boy’s future, so that he will never actually leave the spotlight during his life. So while the world is welcoming the birth of another celebrity, I celebrate that the new Prero baby has a beaming father with his iPhone 5 camera as his own ever-personal paparazzi.
Last week, as we prepared for the very first Shabbat after Tisha B'Av (the 9th day of the month of Av; the saddest day on the Jewish calendar), a Shabbat referred to as the 'Shabbat of Comfort' that’s named after the haftorah reading, the Preros brought their child into the world. The Talmud Yerushalmi teaches us that the Moshiach will be born on Tisha B'Av and that his birth will be quiet and with little fanfare. He will be brought into this world similar to the way in which Moses came into the world, quietly, as it says, "The woman conceived and gave birth to a son. She saw that he was good and she hid him for three months. She could not hide him for any longer…." (Shemot 2; 2-3).
The verse says "She saw he was good" – what does "good" mean? Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Itzhaki; 1040 – 1105) explains that at the time of Moses’ birth the entire house became filled with light. This amazing event made it clear to Moses’ family that they had birthed no ordinary child. However, how could this amazing light have gone unnoticed? Lets keep in mind that even though the entire nation was living under extraordinary persecution, Moses’ birth was still kept low key enough that this slave nation could keep such an important secret even once Moses’ moved into the royal palace. Their connection to this child prodigy paid off because only a few years and verses later Moses shows his stripes as the great leader of the Jewish people, as it says, "When Moses grew up, he went out to his brothers to see their suffering" (Shemos 2;11). Moses could have sat back content in the royal palace playing Temple Run, however, instead he went out to see his people, feel their pain, and then act on the behalf of all Jews, which in turn forced him to leave the lap of luxury and run off to the abyss of the desert.
Leadership is an interesting concept. People may appear to be perfect leaders, but may not acquire such prestige. And others that appear inadequate, get thrust into leadership. If one would consider Moses, he does not appear to be the perfect choice to lead the Jewish people out of Egypt. He has a lisp, he grew up away from the Jewish people, he is unfamiliar with the pain of slavery. It would make sense that he would escape to Midyan after killing the Egyptian, and never be heard from again. However, his bravery to stand up to the Egyptian shows he had a strong connection to the suffering of his brethren. This turning point shows us where his allegiance lies. It shows us how, no matter how uncomfortable this may lead his life to become, he is willing to sacrifice his own well-being for the sake of others, for the sake for those he leads.
Moses was a leader in one of the most monumental times in Jewish history. No leader will ever compare to him as it says, “Never again did a prophet like Moses come up in Israel” (Devarim 34:10). Why is that? What is the irreplaceable quality that Moses had? “Moses was more humble than anyone else on the earth” (Bamidbar 12:3). A major sign of a leader is when they put everyone else before themselves, then they are qualified to lead. As Charlie Harary explains, “We mistakenly associate humility with being passive or incapable. In fact, the English word humility stems from the Latin word humilitas, which means “grounded,” “from the earth,” or “low.” However, according to Jewish thought, humility is not meekness. A humble person can be strong, assertive and proactive. Humility is not downplaying our strengths. Humility is appreciating our G-d given talents and focusing them on the needs of others.” This is exactly what Moses did.
So I ask the question that needs to be addressed; why is the world going crazy over the birth of a child who will, in all likelihood, never be the King of England anyway? I asked this question of NCSY’s resident Englishman, actually our English-woman, Ms. Debbie Stone. Right away she responded to me in her very English accent, "Because they’re all a bunch of fools." Thank you Debbie, I couldn't have said it better myself.
Have a great month everyone!