And Pharaoh's daughter... saw the box among the rushes; and she sent her maid and fetched it (Exodus 2:5)This is not just a cute pshetle, in my opinion. Rather, the Lubavitcher Rebbe's explanation here is quite possibly the pashut peshat of the midrash, and captures the theme the midrash is trying to convey with the miraculous extension. There are other slight variances in explanation which might instead be the peshat in the midrash, but this is generally a good way of thinking about midrash.
The Hebrew word ammatah ("her maid") can also be translated "her arm." This, says the Talmud, is to teach us that "her arm was extended for many arm-lengths" (to enable her to reach the basket).
But if Moses' basket lay "many arm-lengths" beyond her reach, why did Pharaoh's daughter extend her arm in the first place? Says the Lubavitcher Rebbe: Often, we are confronted with a situation that is beyond our capacity to rectify. So we resign ourselves to inactivity, reasoning that the little we can do won't change anything anyway. Yet Pharaoh's daughter heard a child's cry and extended her arm. An unbridgeable distance lay between her and the basket, making her action seem utterly pointless. But because she did the maximum of which she was capable, G-d did the rest.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
From Chabad.org's parsha in depth: