There is a mishna in Pirkei Avot which teaches the following: “In a place where there are no people try and be that person” (Pirkei Avot 2:6). In other words, this Mishna is teaching us that we cannot just stand idly by innocently when others are in trouble. Instead however, we need to do are best to take the initiative to do something about it.
Three of the greatest examples of people for whom this Mishna was a reality in their lives occur in this weeks parsha Shifra (who according to Rashi is Moshe’s mother Yocheved) , Puah (who according to Rashi is Moshe’s sister Miriam), and Moshe Rabbeinu.
The Torah introduces us to Shifra and Puah as two Jewish midwives assigned by Paro to kill all of the first born Jewish boys. However, the Torah writes that they “feared GOD so they did not listen to Paro and let the children (the first Jewish baby boy’s with a death sentence) live” (Shemot 1:17). Shifra and Puah, instead of just complying with Paro’s orders out of fear of their lives, did what was right and spared the baby boys.
Later in the parsha, a young Moshe leaves Paro’s palace for the first time after spending the majority of his life there. Upon leaving he goes out to see the plight of his fellow Jewish brethren he sees an Egyptian man striking a Jewish man. Here, Moshe could have stood idly by while this attack occurred and assumed that someone else would save the poor Jew or feel that it is not his problem. However, the Torah writes that Moshe does not just stand idly by when his fellow Jew is brutally attacked. Instead, Moshe defends this Jew and kills the Egyptian attacker.
We may not yet be on the level were we can stand up for the little guy in as extreme cases as Shifra, Puah and Moshe however, even in our daily lives there are many circumstances were we need to go a little bit out of our way for someone else even if it may inconvenience us.
For example, if you are at a simcha and someone spills water or food will you go out of your way to help them or assume that they themselves or someone else helping them can take care of cleaning the spill? If you see someone looking lost will you go out of your way to try and help them find their way in a neighborhood you might be more familiar with or will you assume the person will figure out how to get around themselves or have someone else help them?
By using Moshe, Shifra and Puah as role models may we merit to not just stand idly by when others are in trouble even in our day to day interactions with others as explained in the example above and strive to be that person which the Mishna tells us to be.
May Moschiach come soon!
Good Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom, Gut Shabbes