Daf Yomi Sotah 12
Remember that feeling you had after watching The Truman Show or The Matrix? How can you tell if your life is real? Perhaps the whole thing has been staged by some film crew or computer system to make you believe that you are working, enjoying life, building relationships. But really it is all one big set-up. Nothing is real. All memories you have of life were either preprogrammed or placed there by design.
Do you have any proof that your life is real?
The Torah states, “And a man went from the house of Levi and he married the daughter of Levi [culminating in the birth of Moshe].”
The Gemara asks: Where did he go?
Rav Yehuda bar Zevina answers: It means that he went along with the advice of his daughter. Moshe’s father, Amram, was the leader of the generation. When wicked Pharaoh issued his decree, “Any male born you shall throw into the river,” he said, “Our efforts are for naught,” and he divorced his wife. All the other Israelites followed his example and they too were divorced.
His daughter, Miriam, saw what had happened and said to him, “Daddy, your decree is harsher than Pharaoh’s, for Pharaoh only decreed against the male children; but you have issued a decree against male and female babies. Pharaoh’s decree only affects this world, but your decree impacts this world and the next. Pharaoh is wicked and so his decree may or may not be effective; you are righteous, your decree will certainly be effective, as it says concerning the righteous, “You shall utter a decree and it shall be fulfilled.” Amram immediately arose and remarried Yocheved. And all the Israelites arose and remarried their wives.
We always say that our greatest leader of all time was Moshe. But Rav Yehuda is teaching us that, were it not for Miriam, Moshe would never have been born at all! So really, in a certain sense, Miriam was our greatest leader! She was the saviour of Moshe and indeed, the entire nation of Israel!
Imagine you were little Miriam. At the time, our Sages tell us, she was six years old. She was a frail child with a sickly demeanor, to the extent that later, she had a hard time getting married. She could have told herself that she’s so small and frail and meaningless. What good would it be to say anything to her father, the chief rabbi? If her reasoning was in any way logical, she might have said, wouldn’t he have thought of it himself?
And so she could have concluded that it’s not worth saying anything to her father, because who was she to try to save the Children of Israel? She was a little kid. A nobody. But instead, she chose not to resign herself to being a nobody and she resolved to do her best to save our people. What was the result? She altered the course of history – allowing Moshe to be born and our people to be redeemed from Egypt!
When Adam was created, he arrived into a perfect world. There were skies and earth. Rivers and mountains. Plants and trees. Fish, birds, and animals. He opened his eyes and declared, “Wow, the world was created for me!” And G-d replied, “Yes, Adam, the world was created for you. That should be your guiding principle throughout your life. Unless, of course, you become haughty, in which case do not forget that a mere mosquito preceded you!”
And indeed that is the guiding principle that each and every one of us must have in life. Miriam realized that she was placed by Heaven into a situation that called for her to alter the course of history. Every moment of history up until that point had led to the moment of truth when she would have to choose whether to let things run their course or to change history forever. Nobody else had her destiny. Her schoolmate hadn’t been born into the chief rabbi’s home. This calling was hers alone. Would she act or would she fail? Declaring “the world was created for me,” she acted. And she saved the Children of Israel from extinction.
The world was created for you. You are not too small. You are not too insignificant. When you hear those thoughts in your head, it is simply the yetzer hara (bad inclination) talking. Everything that has happened until now in history has been mere preparation for the great things you are about to accomplish. You have the power to alter the course of history.
Will you drift through the life and miss your opportunity to move Heaven and Earth? Or will you step up and fulfill your mission for which the entire universe was created? You know what G-d has called you to do. You know that the weight of history rests on your shoulders. You know that you are the one.
You will never know for certain whether you have lived your life over the last number of decades as you believe you have, of if the world was created five minutes ago with all your personal and historical memories simply inserted into your brain by Heaven. But either way, the outcome is the same: You must live like the world was created just for you. May you accept the enormous responsibility of carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders and fulfill your Divine mission, ultimately altering the course of history!