GENTILE PHILOSEMITISM By Rabbi Allen S. Maller
Torah teaches:“She (Pharaoh’s daughter) had compassion on him (Moses).” Exodus 2:6
Why would Pharaoh’s daughter care so much about a Hebrew child that she would defy her father’s decree and save Moses? Rabbi Ibn Ezra the rationalist says she was enthralled by Moses’s beauty. I.e. almost all women naturally find a baby to be very attractive. But Rabbi Yosi ben Hanina says she perceived a spiritual presence with, or within, Moses.I.e. Give her credit for being spiritually sensitive.
Rabbi Simon bar Yohai the mystic says she went to bathe in the river (not the luxurious baths in the palace) because she wished to cleanse herself of her father’s idolatry. I.e. already estranged from Egyptian beliefs she was seeking a spiritual connection when she found Moses. Thus she perceived a spiritual presence with him.
Rabbi Maller says there are many Gentiles who are attracted to Jews because they are seeking a spiritual connection. These Gentiles become Jewish because their souls are already Jewish. Love for a Jew provides a pathway into Judaism and the Jewish people.
Josephus says Pharaoh’s daughter’s Egyptian name was Thermutis. She received the Hebrew name Bityah from Miriam the Prophet when she become Jewish. Although only a teenager, Miriam foresaw that Thermutis was a great soul and would be privileged to enter Paradise while yet alive. The Midrash asserts that Bityah did enter Paradise alive.
By claiming that Pharaoh’s daughter became Jewish the Rabbis teach us that not every member of an enemy group is our enemy. Bityah’s conversion shows that repentance is always possible. Do not exclude a younger generation due to the sins of their elders.
Thermutis first gave the baby the Egyptian name of Tutmose (son of the God Tut), but then thought it was wrong. She dropped the part of the name that referred to the Egyptian God Tut and just used the part mose (Moses in English). Since she respected the baby’s Hebrew heritage Miriam the Prophet named her Bityah which means daughter of God.
The Kabbalah teaches that the souls of most converts to Judaism are the reincarnated souls of Jews from previous generations who were cut off from the Jewish people due to assimilation. Their descendants are thus not Jewish. One or more of them will seek to return in later generations. Bityah could have been the reincarnated soul of one of the grandchildren of Dinah the daughter of Jacob who was raped by a Canaanite prince.
Perhaps Bityah was simply a very kind hearted and courageous Gentile like the more than 20,000 Gentiles who saved Jews during the Holocaust. There are altruistic people who act even at great danger to themselves. It is hard for psychologists to explain such behaviors without attributing them to some kind of need fulfillment. For religious people it is evidence of everyone’s potential to become a great soul without leaving home.