Isaac ben Judah Abarbanel (Portuguese Jewish statesman, philosopher, Bible commentator, and financier commonly referred to as "The Abarbanel" ) points out that one of the key words introduced to us in this week’s parsha from the very beginning is the word BAYIT, the house. A man went from the house, Bayit, of Levi, and marries a daughter of Levi. The two midwives received as a reward Batim, houses. The family of Yaakov descended to Egypt, each man and his house, Bayit. This concept of family is a consistent theme and reaches greater heights with the evolution of a nation. Each story in the narrative of Breishit depicts a younger son rising in prominence over his older sibling, usually with dismal results. The final narrative in Chumash Breishit is the one story of two brothers when the younger rises over the older and does not result in any form of hatred or jealousy, and that is with Ephraim and Menashe. In our story now, in the beginning, it is not an issue, and yet we see from the outset that Moshe, the younger son, rises to prominence over his older brother, Aharon. Yet their relationship, in fact their partnership in acting together with Moshe in the lead, demonstrates the true role model of a familial relationship that exudes love and care, and the result is Geulah, Redemption. This Aleph and Mem partnership of Aharon and Moshe can also be seen in other stages of Redemption with Esther and Mordechai in the Purim story, and ultimately in the final Redemption, Eliyahu the Prophet and the Melech HaMashiach – again Aleph and Mem.
There is a test of leadership that several commentaries point out. It is just a series of verses that quickly narrate a demonstration of Moshe as a young adult who involved himself in three separate incidents. Moshe comes on the scene when an Egyptian taskmaster is beating a Jewish person. He intervenes and kills the Egyptian. In the second scene two Jews are fighting among themselves and Moshe intervenes. The third case is in Midian when Moshe comes upon the well and finds the shepherds contending with the daughters of Yitro. In each situation Moshe was an outsider. It is of interest, and quite noteworthy, that the three cases are Jew vs. non-Jew; a Jew vs. a Jew; and then non-Jew v. non-Jew. These are three totally different types of situations, and in each case, Moshe put himself in the middle. He involved himself in order to right any wrongs, and to create a sense of justice and morality. Covered in short sentences, the Torah depicts Moshe’s actions without fanfare. We should note that what Moshe was doing was demonstrating tremendous character development. We normally think that Hashem chooses the Prophet in the Sefer. In this case Moshe is chosen by Hashem once he has proven himself worthy of the position that he is given.
The terms Yaakov and Yisrael are both used in the first verse of today's haftorah. "The coming generations will allow Yaakov to take root, it will blossom and flower as Yisrael." Yaakov represents the name of the Galut (exile) appearance of Israel. Only when Yaakov takes root, establishes himself to exist in strength, will he grow and develop. This development in Jewish history will be a struggle, in exile, and through much pain and trouble. If he succeeds in rooting himself in this "purifying" manner, he will blossom into Yisrael. Yisrael is the name of Israel when it is realizing its given name, when its entire existence is stamped with God's government. The Yaakov of the exile will become the Yisrael of the Promised Land. The divine blessing will come if Yaakov/Yisrael perseveres in Torah and good deeds.