This week I want to look at an apparently simple pasuk:
Rashi brings a midrashic explanation of ונערתיה הלכת:
But others argue that ונערתיה הלכת is necessary for understanding the פשט:
However, most מפרשים go in exactly the opposite direction: אמתה was specifically not one of נערתיה:
So the פשט of ונערתיה הלכת emphasizes the השגחה פרטית of Moshe’s rescue, how Bat Pharaoh saw him when her maids-in-waiting did not. Why the דרש of הוֹלְכוֹת לְשׁוֹן מִיתָה? The actual gemara is even more specific:
The Maharal is one of the pioneers of reading midrashim “seriously but not literally”; or rather, he argues that the “literal” reading of a midrash is in a spiritual sense:
The Maharal doesn’t specifically mention it, but we’ve talked about the idea that גבריאל as a מלאך represents “the manifestation of ה׳’s hand in history”. When it says, בא גבריאל וחבטן בקרקע and נסתלק מהם כחם ומזלם, they have lost their destiny and role in history.
Rav Hutner explains further, that the פשט of the text represents the “world of פשט”, what we would observe if we were seeing the incident in person. But if we could see it through “דרש-colored glasses”, we would see the same incident very differently:
In other words, the פשט explanation and the דרש explanation are saying exactly the same thing. The נערות walked on, while בת פרעה saw the basket and saved the infant. The נערות were lost to history, while בת פרעה became an important player in the history of the world. This is the Maharal’s approach to all of חז״ל's aggadot:
And that gets back to the text that the gemara uses to prove its point about אין הליכה זו אלא לשון מיתה. It uses a pasuk about Esav (הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי הוֹלֵךְ לָמוּת) when there is apparently a better pasuk (the one cited by the Maharal):
Or, from קהלת:
We are all in a state of what Heidegger calls Sein-zum-Tode, ”Being-toward-death“ (which he sometimes called Vorlaufen-zum-Tode, ”Running-ahead-toward-death“). We are all הֹלְכִים בְּדֶרֶךְ כָּל הָאָרֶץ. But that fact can let us grow and develop:
חז״ל are making the point that the נערות are to be compared to Esav specifically:
It’s what we say at a סיום:
And it highlights the contrast with בת פרעה who doesn’t walk on, who acts and so has a role in history:
We are all הולכות למיתה. It’s what we do with our הליכה that matters.