Midreshet Amit


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Lessons from Batya

By: Eliana Gross

Batya, the daughter of Pharaoh, plays a short but sweet role in this week’s Parsha. Though she doesn’t get much airtime, her retrieval of baby Moshe from the Nile River is a key moment in Jewish history. Upon finding him, she returns him to his birth mother, Yocheved, only to be nursed, and then raises him in the palace as a noble Prince. The Sages help us understand her genuine greatness by giving over the following details:
In this week’s Parsha, we find that the reason Batya visits the Nile in the first place is to wash herself. The Gemara in Sotah adds that this isn’t any ordinary washing; rather she is cleansing herself of her father’s idols. Rashi explains her bathing as part of a conversion process- to become one with the Jewish nation. The daughter of Pharaoh, the man who initiated the extermination of all Jewish baby boys, is converting to Judaism?! This is an extremely bold and courageous move.

The Gemara in Sotah 12b tells us that when Batya sees Moshe appear in the river, she wants to save him. Her attendants try to stop her, saying, "The way of the world is that if a King makes decrees, then even if the whole world does not follow them, at least his own children should follow them; yet you are transgressing the decree of your father!" Yet Batya does not listen and she saves the helpless child. Her inclination towards moral goodness is so strong, it even surpasses the fear of disrespecting her powerful father.

In Divrei HaYamim, we are told that Batya marries a man named Mered, who is identified in the Midrash as Kalev Ben Yefunneh, one of the two spies of ten who refused to speak negatively about the land of Israel. Why then is he referred to as Mered, whose root means rebel? The Midrash clarifies, "he rebelled against the spies and she rebelled against the counsel of her father. Let the rebel come and marry the rebel." Again, we see the emphasis on the rebellious nature of Batya, but that she used this nature in such a righteous way, she is compared to the highly respected “rebel”, Kalev, who overcame his own great pressures in order to act in the correct way.
Through this, we see how Batya merits to be called Daughter of God. Her commitment to serving God and doing what she feels is morally correct is so strong that it surpasses all outside pressures to follow in the wicked ways of Egyptian society. We are privileged this year to have the unbelievable opportunity to not only work on our own relationships with Hashem, but also strengthen our commitments to moral goodness. May we all merit to follow in Batya’s footsteps as proud daughters of God, and continue to spread light among the other nations.