What's it all About? – Parshat Shemot

There are some situations when questions seem to be begging to be asked. Yet I don’t always notice the obvious question until someone else points it out. And then it can make me feel anything from surprisingly un-observant to downright foolish.

So, when my brother-in-law pointed out the following explanation in this week's parsha I said 'wow, how come I never noticed that before.' And then this year I had an even further revelation.

As the incident at the burning bush unfolds, the Torah writes that Moshe went over to study the fascinating event. Interestingly, it was only then that God called Moshe by name.1 Rabbi Chaim Flom, z"l, my brother-in-law, quoting Seforno, wrote about Moshe's desire to understand and that "the 'looking' seems to be a reason why he was chosen."2 Curiosity, then, seems to be a prerequisite for leadership.

This year, Seforno's commentary hit me even stronger. Moshe was, let's say for argument's sake, about 50-55 yards/meters away from the bush when he noticed the peculiarity. Was he too far for God to have called out to him? Of course not. Even if he was 100 yards/meters away God could have called him. So what was God waiting for? He waited for Moshe to display that curiosity about an oddity of nature. Having curiosity is not enough. It needs to be "drafted" into use.3

Sometimes we are too busy to be curious. Or we are too focused on what the end product "should" be. When I was a student in an alcoholic inpatient unit, my supervisor, Barbara Stone, suggested I try being more curious about what the patients were going through. It was a new concept to me and I certainly had never studied curiosity as an attribute a professional needs to have. It was a revelation to me - though, I must admit, it took a number of years until I actually internalized it.

The beauty of curiosity is that we are able to put aside any judgmental attitude we have in order to learn. We open ourselves up to new experience and knowledge.4 Instead of a gnawing, agonizing sense of "having to know or else", there is a sense of calm excitement (how's that for an oxymoron) about what is waiting out there, or even inside of me, for me to discover.

In memory of my mother, Hentcha Leah bat Yitzchak Lipa, hk"m



  1. Shemot 3:1-4
  2. Short Vorts, Shemos 5759
  3. Seforno actually takes curiosity to another level writing that Moshe viewed the burning bush as a metaphor for how the Egyptian beatings of the Jews did not result in extinction of the people.
  4. Indeed, Joseph Fabry, a noted logotherapist, writes about his experience of feeling goosebumps when studying Freud

Have A Great Shabbat!laughing

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