Moshe became frightened and said, “Achein nodah hadovor – Indeed, the matter is known.” The posuk’s intent would seem to be that Moshe feared that there were witnesses to what he had done the day before to the Mitzri. “Achein nodah hadovor – I have been discovered and I am now in trouble.” In fact, the next posuk relates that Paroh heard about what happened and Moshe was forced to flee for his life.
The Medrash, quoted by Rashi, offers a different explanation: “Achein nodah hadovor – Now I understand the matter that was troubling me.” The suffering of the Jews had been a mystery to Moshe, but upon observing the way these two men interacted with each another, he understood.
Let us try to comprehend the Medrash. Moshe was raised amidst the regal splendor of Paroh’s palace. At the age of twenty, after being appointed by Paroh to a position of authority, he left the palace to identify with the suffering of his people. He was overcome by the sight of their anguish.
The first time he left the palace to explore the plight of his brethren, he came across a Mitzri beating a Jew. The sight of a Jew being persecuted, the sight of evil and injustice being perpetrated, affected him to his core. He couldn’t stand by passively and he immediately struck down the tormentor.
As a member of Paroh’s royal household, he had never been permitted to see the Jewish people up close and was baffled by their enslavement and suffering. Why was their inhumane treatment allowed to continue? Why did they not rise up to defend themselves from their evil masters? Why were they doomed to a life of servitude?
The incident with Doson and Avirom, who mocked him when he appealed to them to cease quarrelling, answered his questions.
Rashi explains that Moshe saw that they were baalei lashon harah, and he thus understood their captivity. Granted that lashon harah is a terrible trait, and even worse, one who speaks it transgresses many sins, but how does the fact that the Jews are guilty of lashon harah explain why the Jews weren’t worthy of being rescued from Mitzrayim?
In last week’s parsha, Vayechi, Yaakov Avinu gathered his sons prior to his passing and wished to reveal to them when Moshiach would come and what he would usher in. The posuk states, “Hei’asfu va’agidah lochem eis asher yikrah es’chem be’Acharis Hayomim – Gather and I will reveal to you what will transpire at the End of Days.”
The Medrash explains that Yaakov was saying to the shevatim that when their children will be unified, when they will all gather together as one, the period of Acharis Hayomim could then begin.
Perhaps we can suggest that when Moshe saw that the Jews engaged in lashon harah, indicating a deep hatred and jealousy for others, he knew that they weren’t unified. If they could speak that way, he knew that there was no unity among them. He knew that they were fractured and divided, and thus, “nodah hadovor,” he understood whythey did not deserve Divine deliverance.
Moshe observed that the reaction to someone who considered Jewish life sacred, and to someone who cared enough about the way the Jews were being treated that he put his life in jeopardy, was mockery and scorn.
Instead of thanking Moshe for his heroic act, they vilified him. Instead of praising a fearless stranger for his defense of one of their brethren, they raised their hands to strike each other.
When had they ever seen a person intercede on behalf of the Jews? Was there anyone else who lifted a finger to help them? Yet, instead of recognizing the person and seeking to win him over to their cause, they vilified him.
Achein nodah hadovor. They were insecure in their greatness. They viewed themselves with derision. They beat themselves. They took the side of their enemies. They were tormented beyond belief, yet when someone came along to help them, they sided with the oppressor and not with the man who rescued a Jew. They adopted the thinking of their slave-drivers, thinking they weren’t deserving of help. Thus, they would never be able to rally around a redeemer; they would never cease speaking lashon harah and committing other aveiros which caused a wall to be erected between them and Hashem
Achein nodah hadovor. Moshe understood why no leader had emerged to unite the Jews against the Mitzriyim. They had to do battle with the likes of Doson and Avirom, who stood ready to slander them, and sabotage and mock them for their efforts.
In our day, as well, there are people who adopt the position of those who vilify us. When Jews rally in unity and seek to help one another, there are people who mock them and admonish them for banding together. When the media seeks to paint us all with old stereotypes, we find bloggers and others who join in the anti-religious chorus and, rather than defend the Jewish victims, they adopt the bigoted vitriol.
An extreme example of this harmful behavior is a personage like Henry Kissinger. In recently released tapes, he is heard telling President Richard Nixon in 1973 that were the Soviet Union to put Jews into gas chambers, it would not be an American concern.
Though he himself was rescued from the clutches of the Nazis by the generosity of this great land, when he was in a position to help the Jews of the Soviet Union, he was subservient to the anti-Semitic bias of his boss.
That is the syndrome in its extreme, but quite often of late, we have seen Jews not only acting foolishly in the public eye and badmouthing their brethren in the media, but we see them inexplicably taking the side of those who express an anti-Jewish bias, even when doing so flies in the face of the obvious truth. These people harm us, our causes and our prospects for deliverance.
When we encounter such people, we should say to ourselves, “Achein nodah hadovor,” and work even harder to spread goodness and kindness. We cannot permit them to lower us to their level. We have to overcome the actions of such people through education and dedication to Torah, mitzvos and our ancient credo.
When we encounter the Dosons and Aviroms of our time who show contempt for our leaders and those who seek to help other Jews, we should recognize them for what they are and not give them credence.
If we want to bring the geulah closer, we have to be supportive of those who display communal responsibility and concern. We must encourage people to get involved in helping to build organizations and mosdos. We must support people who seek to resolve community-wide dilemmas that affect each and every one of us.
We must collectively declare that we have had enough of the Dosons and Aviroms among us. We must engage in actions which foster ahavas Yisroel and seek to bring love and respect amongst Jews. We have to work to help the downtrodden, the poor, the abused, the forlorn, and the people nobody seems to care about. We have to strive to remove the plague of jealousy from amongst us.
We have to dedicate ourselves and our free time to help build mosdos of Torah and chesed. We must rise to the occasion, whether or not we will be recognized or thanked for our efforts. We have to view every Jew as a brother and treat him with brotherly love and concern.
If we will adhere to Yaakov Avinu’s credo of “hei’asfu,” we will bring about the period of Acharis Hayomim speedily, in our day.