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Parashat Beshalah: We’re Never Too Busy To Say “Thank You”

The first section of Parashat Beshalah tells one of the most dramatic stories in the entire Torah – the story of Keri’at Yam Suf, the miracle of the splitting of the sea. Beneh Yisrael were trapped between the sea and the pursuing Egyptian army, and Hashem miraculously rescued them by splitting the sea, allowing them to cross on dry land.

Toward the beginning of the Parasha, there is one verse which appears to be somewhat out of place, recording an event that seems, at first glance, to pale in comparison to the rest of this section in terms of drama. The verse tells us that as Beneh Yisrael left Egypt, Moshe took with him the remains of Yosef, in fulfillment of the vow made by Yosef’s brothers to bring his remains out of Egypt so they could be interred in Eretz Yisrael.

But while this Pasuk may strike some as "uninteresting," the truth is that we have much to learn from this aspect of the Exodus. The Hemdat Yamim (attributed to a student of the Arizal) noted that in telling of Moshe’s efforts to bring Yosef’s remains, the Torah adds the word "Et": "Va’yikah Moshe Et Asmot Yosef Imo." The word "Et" generally alludes to something in addition to that which is mentioned explicitly in the text. In this instance, the Hemdat Yamim explains, the Torah alludes to another deceased person whose remains were brought by Moshe out of Egypt – Moshe’s stepmother, Batya. As we read in Parashat Shemot, Batya – Pharaoh’s daughter – was bathing in the river when she saw an infant floating in a basket. Recognizing that this was an Israelite child, she took the baby and adopted him as her son. This baby, of course, was Moshe. Now, some eighty years later, as Beneh Yisrael left Egypt, Moshe made a point of taking her remains so she could be buried in the Land of Israel. Moshe recognized the enormous debt of gratitude he owed to Batya, who rescued him from the river and from her father’s decree that all baby Israelite boys should be killed. He therefore saw it as his responsibility to tend to her remains and ensure her burial in Eretz Yisrael.

We can hardly imagine how busy and burdened Moshe Rabbenu was on the day of the Exodus. He was in charge of some two million slaves who were suddenly given their freedom, and were now leaving Egypt. He was their leader and prophet, the one who would guide them and care for them as they made their way toward their homeland. It would be an understatement to say that Moshe had a lot on his mind on this day. And yet, he did not forget his debt of gratitude to his stepmother, to the one who made this all possible. Even at the busiest, most hectic moment, Moshe remembered to say "thank you."

Gratitude must always be a priority. We must never be too busy to say "thank you," to pick up the phone and express our appreciation to those who have helped us. Even in today’s fast-paced world, and with the hectic life that we all live, we cannot be too preoccupied to show gratitude. Regardless of what else is going on, this must always remain toward the very top of our priority scale. Even on the day of the Exodus, Moshe did not forget his debt of gratitude to his stepmother. We, too, must never forget to say "thank you," even in life’s busiest moments.

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