Dvar for Shemot (Exodus 1:1-6:1)
The most repetitive phrase you hear when you get engaged/married is “you should build a Bayit Ne’eman (sturdy home), and it just so happens that this week’s Parsha is the very first time in the Torah that this concept is mentioned, so it might be nice to try and understand it:
When Yocheved and Miriam, the 2 midwives responsible for delivering the Jewish babies, were ordered by Paroh to kill all the newborn boys, they disobeyed a direct order, thereby risking their lives. In explaining this to us, the Torah says that G-d rewarded them, the nation prospered and multiplied, and G-d “built them houses” (1:20-21) – not literal houses, but rather that their descendants would become great pillars of Jewish leadership and religion (Rashi). From the way the Passuk (verse) elucidates it, though, it seems that they were rewarded AND there were houses built for them. Were they rewarded twice? If so, why?
Rabbi Rubman points out that the Passuk says that it wasn’t because they risked their lives that they were rewarded with great descendants, but because they feared G-d that they deserved it. The reason for the double-language is because they were 1) rewarded for risking their lives, and 2) houses were built based on their fear and respect of G-d. What’s unique about these rewards is that their fear/respect of G-d is what warranted eternal reward, and NOT their life- risking actions. If the motives behind our actions are sometimes more important than the acts themselves, even if the act is life threatening, then the Torah’s message is that it truly is the thought that counts.