EVERY HISTORIC EVENT was the result: of a great decision that someone was called upon to make in a significant juncture in life. When the Jewish Constituent Assembly met on a Friday in May, 1948 in Jerusalem, the delegates were faced with the burning problem of whether or not to declare the independence of a Jewish State. The Arabs were threatening to destroy the Yirshuv if the Jews would dare to proclaim a State. Other nations were cool, if not hostile, to the idea. One did not have to be a psychologist or a mind-reader to know what went on in the hearts and minds of those great Jews as they weighed the alternatives, and despite the heavy odds against them, resolved to proclaim the birth of the State of Israel.

A similar problem faced the leaders of the government of Israel early in July, 1976. They had to decide whether or not to send an expedition to save the hijacked Jewish men, women and children from Uganda. The miracle of Entebee came to pass because of the determination and courage of the Jewish leaders and the wonderful daring and expertise of the Armed Forces of Israel.

It is interesting to note that one of the truly great decisions ever made was not by a statesman, a scientist, or a general, but by a young non-Jewish woman, the daughter of Pharaoh.

You recall the dramatic story: how the daughter of that tyrannical king was strolling on the banks of the Nile. As she parted the weeds, she saw a basket drifting on the waters. She reached the basket, opened it and beheld an infant crying. She knew that this was a Jewish child placed there by a desperate mother in order to save it from being drowned in accordance with the cruel edict of her father. As the Princess was gazing at the wailing baby, mixed emotions swept her heart. On the one hand she was being moved by a deep sense of compassion for the helpless infant. On the other, there was the loyalty she owed her father and her country. "If I spare the child," she must have said to herself, "I will be a traitor to my people, and if discovered, will pay for it with my life." There stood the young noblewoman bewildered--in the throes of doubt and fear, torn by conflicting loyalties. And the fate of the child hung in the balance. But was it only the fate of one little Jewish bay? You and I know that history was waiting breathlessly for the outcome of the struggle within the heart of the Princess of Egypt. Had that infant been permited to drown, the hopes of an enslaved people would have gone to a watery grave with him. The world, too, would be doomed to centuries of barbarism and oppression. Had there been no Moses, even the meager morality that we now enjoy would be non-existent, for there would have been no Ten Commandments and no Bible in the world.

On the verse, "And she opened it, and saw the child" (Exod. 2:6), our sages say sheroatoh imo Shekhinah (Rashi Exod. 2:7). She beheld a divine light on the face of the child. The daughter of Pharaoh discerned divine possibilities in that baby. Prophetically, she saw Moses the man, the future redeemer and lawgiver of Israel. It dawned on her that by a decisive act of her hands she could either pronounce the doom of civilization or announce its birth. And she concluded that allegiance to God and the welfare of mankind superseded that of her obligation of loyalty to her cruel father and his corrupt government.

That explains why she named the boy she saved, Moses, "Because out of the waters have I drawn him" (Ibid. 2:10). By giving him that name she wished to impress upon the child that just as someone had saved him at the risk of her life, so must he dedicate his efforts and talents to saving his people from slavery and death.

In our sacred literature this unusual young woman is known by the name of Batyah, which represents a merger of two words bat, meaning "daughter," and yah, "of God." This name was given her as a reward and tribute for the selfless and divinely inspired decision that she had made in a crucial period of Jewish and world history. They also apply to her the phrase umatzdike harabim kakekhavim, "And they who turn the many to righteousness are as the stars ..." (Daniel 12: 3).

A star is a vast world. Some stars are many times larger than the sun, but because they are millions of light-years away they appear as mere dots in the firmament.

Batyah was a star, and so was Moses. This is true of most children. Only those who are close to the child --who watch his growth and development, his education and training-- can see the vast potentialities and possibilities of that young specimen of humanity. Batyah was blessed with that divine insight and keen perception to discern in the crying baby in the basket the star that he would be someday.

This incident teaches us the grave responsibility that parents and teachers have in the education of the young. It is brought home to us in a fine poem by Clarence E. Flynn, entitled "The Heart of a Child."

Whatever you write on the heart of a child,
No waters can wash it away.
The sands may be shifted when billows are wild,
And the efforts of time may decay.
Some stories may perish, some songs be forgot,
But this engraven record, time changes it not.

Whatever you write on the heart of a child,
A story of gladness or care--
That heaven has blessed, or that earth has defiled,
Will linger unchangeably there.
Who writes it has sealed it forver and aye,
He must answer to God on the great Judgement Day.

The child acquires goodness in his heart because he sees goodness extended to him and to others; he learns to love because he experiences the effects of warmth and love in the home; he is trained in the paths of integrity and kindness when he observes these virtues in his environment. That is the reason for the heavy burden that rests on parents and educators. Their decision to live on a higher spiritual and moral level is crucial to the future of the child, the nation and the world. Their acts and behavior represent the indelible script on the hearts and minds of those who will succeed them.

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