Join our weekly Peninim on the Torah list!

ותרא אתו כי טוב הוא ותצפנהו שלשה ירחים

She saw that he was good, and she hid him for three months. (2:2)

Download PDF

Yocheved conceived and gave birth to Moshe Rabbeinu. The Torah informs us that the infant Moshe remained with his mother for three months. Interestingly, the Torah does not mention his mother giving him a name. One would think that over the three-month period, Yocheved would have named her son. Horav Mordechai Gifter, zl, offers an insightful explanation. A name is far more than just a title of reference. A name represents its bearer, his very essence, character and abilities. A name defines a person. This, however, can only be said of the average person who, by excelling in certain areas more so than in others, indicates that he possesses a distinctly measurable amount of ability and talent. In other words, we are all comprised of various attributes, some in which we excel more or better than in others. Thus, a name personifies the person’s abilities (or areas in which he excels) in contrast to his inabilities. If one is perfect, however, no name can define him, because he excels in all of his abilities. Without some sort of deficiency in which one demonstrates imperfection, there is no room to distinguish between: ability and inability; talent in opposition to lack thereof. What name do you give to the individual who is perfect, to one who is consummately good?

Moshe Rabbeinu was the epitome of human perfection. He “had it all” and made use of every one of his G-d-given gifts to execute his mission in life. What do you give to someone who has everything? Our pasuk says of Moshe – Ki tov hu, “He was good!” We simply have no other words with which to describe him. Tov. Good. That was his name.

Perhaps we can explain this further. Following the creation of Adam HaRishon, Hashem said, Lo tov he’yos ha’adam levado, “It is not good that man be alone” (Bereishis 2:18). The Torah is teaching us a primary concept with regard to mankind. A man alone is lo tov – “not good.” Man was created for a purpose. Horav Chaim Voloziner, zl, expresses that purpose in simple, but definitive, terms: L’hoil l’acharini – “To help others.” We are not here for ourselves. Therefore, we cannot live a reclusive existence. When one is alone – it/he is not good.

Moshe’s first public appearance, his primary egress from the solitude of Pharaoh’s palace into the outside world, consisted of, V’yaar b’sivlosame, “And (he) observed their burdens” (ibid 2:11). What constituted Moshe’s “observing” his brethren? Nosan eino v’libo lihiyos meitzar aleiheim, “He focused his eyes and heart to be distressed over them” (Rashi). Moshe identified with his people. He empathized with their pain. He did not want to be alone. Throughout his life he displayed this compassion. Tov is the perfect person.

Lo tov is one who is alone. When one is alone he is imperfect, because he cannot help his brother. Our mission in life is to focus on achieving the appellation, “tov.”

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our weekly Peninim on the Torah list!

You have Successfully Subscribed!