Thursday, January 19, 2017

One of My Favorite Parshah Riddles: Elastigirl in the Torah

During my pulpit years in Oak Park, I would ask a Parshat Hashavua riddle before the Torah reading. While I have forgotten most of them, one that I remember well and is one of my favorites is the following: Which member of the Incredibles appears in Parashat Shemot? The answer of course: Elastigirl. Where does she appear? In Rashi's commentary.

The Torah tells us that when baby Moshe is placed into the Nile and found by the daughter of Par'oh, וַתִּשְׁלַח אֶת אֲמָתָהּ וַתִּקָּחֶהָ, which literally means that, "she sent her maidservant, and she took it." The word אמה here means "Maid." Rashi, after giving the plain meaning, adds another explanation based on the Midrash in the Gemara in Sotah.
Our Sages (Sotah 12b), however, interpreted it as an expression meaning a hand. [The joint from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger is known as אַמָּה, hence the cubit measure bearing the name, אַמָּה, which is the length of the arm from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger.] Following [the rules of] Hebrew grammar, however, it should have been vowelized אַמָּתָהּ, with a dagesh in the mem. They, however, interpreted אֶת אֲמָתָהּ to mean her hand, [that she stretched out her hand,] and her arm grew many cubits (אַמוֹת) [so that she could reach the basket].
Thus, Par'oh's daughter was the original Elastigirl - who stretched out her arm a great distance to bring the baby Moshe into her arms!