I want to share with you a beautiful and insightful lesson that we can take with us from this week’s parasha. Moshe just attempted to threaten and predict the eighth plague (locust) to Pharaoh. After a lot of pressure from his servants, Pharaoh requests to speak to Moshe and Aharon. Pharaoh then asks them “מי ומי ההולכים”, “Who is going?”. The Baal HaTurim explains that Pharaoh foresaw through his astrologers that the entire generation would fall in the Midbar and not merit to enter the land of Israel. He thereby tells Moshe מי ומי ההולכים, which is the same numeric value of כלב ובן נון (ie. A hint that only Kalev and Yehoshua will enter the land, and everyone else between the ages of 20-60 will perish in the Midbar.) So there is no point in leaving in the first place.
Moshe then responds בנערינו ובזקננו נלך, The Baal HaTurim continues to explain: “You may be right regarding the men from ages 20-60, but the children and elderly will indeed enter.” To which Pharaoh refuses and says “no deal.”
Here we see how our perceptions and values differ from the goyim. To the gentile, whose aspirations are merely physical, there is not much value in a child or in a senior citizen. After all, the child’s brain isn’t mature enough and his physical strengths are limited. Seniors are looked at in a similar light. In Judaism, however, we see the soul as a priority and our neshama is priceless. It is a piece of Hashem’s infinity, which is ageless.
By us, the older you become the more spiritually you possess. We see that by our Gedolim. They reached their climax of holiness moments before they leave this world.
We also see the importance of Jewish children, which goes far beyond mental or physical capabilities, as we see with the prayers of תיקונות של בית רבן which are never rejected. We also find that the focal point of ליל הסדר is the child.
This does not apply to age alone. No matter our social status or capabilities, we are all of infinite value. There is no price in the world to determine the value and power of a Jew. The secular viewpoint is that you are born, have some highlights, and then it goes downhill from there.
When I was 18 years old during my year in Israel I was invited to my Ultra-Orthodox cousin for Shabbat in Beitar. My cousin, who was at the time in his 30’s and a highly respected sofer, amongst other things. When someone brought him a Mezuzah to be checked I noticed that my cousin not only could not answer if the Mezuzah was kosher or not, but he asked his five year old son to take a look at it. A few seconds later, he answered it was kosher. When I confronted him about this, he replied that in this particular safek it was impossible for him to give an objective ruling, nor were his older children. It required the innocence of a person who could make out a letter but not be able to read the word.
It then hit me that every Jew, no matter at what age, has his own uniqueness and power in the eyes of Torah. A goy could never comprehend this because the values that he shares are merely physical and of a finite value.
You are a Jew. So you are Priceless.