Do You Hear the Cries?

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<p>Hearing the Cries of a baby</p>

Hearing the Cries of a baby

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One of the most moving images in the Bible is Moses floating down the Nile. His mother, Yocheved, fearing the wrath of the Egyptian taskmasters, sends her three month old child down the river praying for his salvation. Miraculously, Moses is spotted by the daughter of Pharaoh, who risks her life to save him. Batya, as she is known, merits eternal life for her courage and kindness.

When we examine the verse carefully, we will notice an important detail. The Torah describes the scene as Batya witnesses the floating baby in the basket. “She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. 'This is one of the Hebrew babies,' she said."

The midrash comments that the tears of Moses aroused the compassion of Batya. The crying aroused her mercy and she moved outside her comfort zone to save Moses. In that instant, she set into motion the redemption of the Jewish people. Moses becomes the savior, prophet and Master teacher of Torah, but the catalyst was her attention to the crying baby.

We must never forget the baby who is crying. This message is crystallized in a well known story about the Baal HaTanya, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the first Lubavitch Rebbe, and his son, Rav Dov Ber.

When Rabbi Dov Ber was a young man, he lived in the same house as his father. One night, while Rav Dov Ber was deeply engrossed in his studies, his youngest child fell out of his cradle. Rabbi Dov Ber heard nothing. But Rabbi Schneur Zalman, who was also immersed in study in his room on the second floor, heard the infant's cries. The Rebbe came downstairs, lifted the infant from the floor, soothed his tears, replaced him in the cradle, and rocked him to sleep. Rabbi Dov Ber remained oblivious throughout it all.

Later, Rabbi Schneur Zalman admonished his son: "No matter how lofty your involvements, you must never fail to hear the cry of a child."

Rabbi Yehuda Amital, of blessed memory, one of the founders of Yeshivat Gush Etzion, repeated this story often. He explained that this was one of the founding principles of his Yeshiva -learn Torah but still hear the baby cry. In this vein, he explained that when he saw the plans of the study hall and it did not have windows, he immediately requested that the study hall have big windows. A house of study must be connected to the outside world to hear the cries of the world outside.

We must always aspire to lead lives of faith but never at the expense of ignoring the cries in our communities. When we do express compassion and hear and act to alleviate the cry of the “baby”, like Batya, our deed may be the catalyst for a world of redemption, goodness and peace.

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