Moshe was frightened. He thought, “Indeed the matter is known!”
Rashi: His fright can be understood in its usual sense, as concern for his
own safety. The word was out that he, Moshe, had killed the Egyptian, and he
might suffer consequencesThe Medrash, however, sees him frightened about the
state of the Jewish people. Since the word had spread, there must be
informers among the Jews. He reasoned that if this were the case, perhaps
they would not be worthy of redemption.
Maharal: This Medrash conveys a deep and wondrous thought: anyone who
possesses the characteristic of a loose tongue does not deserve redemption.
Geulah comes from a lofty, inner, hidden quality, one that is not open and
exposed. Someone who has no ability to keep hidden matters internalized
shows that he does not possess any sterling value at his core. The value of
that core is the key to redemption. Without it, redemption does not occur.
Let us enlarge this thought. If you had to distill the essence of a given
people, you would look to well-known and apparent characteristics. The
behavior and interests of that people would give you some understanding of
how to define the core shared by that people.
If you try the same exercise in regard to Klal Yisrael, you come up with
something very different. If you succeed at all in finding the kernel truth
of Jewishness, it would have nothing to do with attributes or behavior that
are externalized and therefore observable. That profound essence cannot
easily be put into words, because it does not belong to the world of open
and apparent phenomena. It comes from a level that is deep and profound, and
not given to display. (It should be realized that this is a truism of life.
Things that are deeper and more profound remain hidden; things that are
placed in the public domain and well-trafficked are never very deep.) It is
that deep level at which Klal Yisrael shows its affinity for HKBH. That
affinity, that connection to Hashem is what makes it inappropriate for Klal
Yisrael to remain subjugated to any temporal power. Klal Yisrael, through
its attachment to Hashem, should be subservient to none but Him.
Moshe saw the incidence of informers among the people as evidence that Klal
Yisrael had somehow compromised or suppressed this profound level. By
expressing things openly that should by right have remained concealed, these
informers demonstrated that they had no profound, inner place. Their
madregah was an external one, like other nations.
Actually, their madregah was more debased than that of other people. Those
nations are all governed by natural, physical laws. Their existence is based
on the externalities of the physical world. There is nothing particularly
inappropriate in their attempt to keep all things out in the open. For Klal
Yisrael, however, such a tendency represents a dereliction of duty and
abandonment of a lofty role. Therefore, it is out of the ordinary for any
other nation to remain subjugated over an extended period of time. Each
nation has its assigned place and purpose, and the laws of history sustain
each people in its role. A nation may find itself under the thumb of a
stronger one for a while, but it will not remain a distinct people and a
long-term subject at the same time.
Klal Yisrael’s position, on the other hand, is to be with Hashem. If it
jettisons the madregah that enables the connection with Hashem, it has
nothing more to sustain it, and finds itself under the extended thumb of
oppressor after oppressor. Moshe, thinking that the behavior of the
informers was more widespread than it was, feared that Klal Yisrael had lost
its inner compass, and set itself up for prolonged shibud.
Sadly, Jews are more prone to this evil behavior than other people. Because
Jews initially possess the madregah of sod, or preserving hiddenness, when
they seek out more degraded ways to live they must turn their backs on their
former defining characteristic. Opting out of kedushas Yisrael has to mean
opting out of the preservation of sod. Exiting their assigned madregah
means rejecting the entire principle of discretion and tzniyus. Other
peoples never possessed this inner, profound state to begin with. When they
attach themselves to degradation, it can take many forms – but it need not
necessarily mean rejecting the values of privacy, secrecy and circumspection.
It turned out that the incidence of informers in the midst of the Bnei
Yisrael was much less than Moshe had thought. Geulah did come – because Klal
Yisrael preserved and protected that inner core, and with it attached
themselves to HKBH.
1. Based on Gur Aryeh, Shemos 2:14; Nesiv ha-Shesika, chap.1; Gevuros
Hashem, chap. 60,