Shemos 2:6 states:

וַתִּפְתַּח֙ וַתִּרְאֵ֣הוּ אֶת־הַיֶּ֔לֶד וְהִנֵּה־נַ֖עַר בֹּכֶ֑ה וַתַּחְמֹ֣ל עָלָ֔יו וַתֹּ֕אמֶר מִיַּלְדֵ֥י הָֽעִבְרִ֖ים זֶֽה׃

When she opened it, she saw that it was a child, a boy crying. She took pity on it and said, “This must be a Hebrew child.”

Rashi there explains:

והנה נער בכה. קוֹלוֹ כְּנַעַר :

והנה נער בכה lit., AND BEHOLD A BOY WEEPING — Although he was a ילד, “a child”, his voice was like that of a נער, a grown up boy.

Rashi on the Gemara in Sotah which makes the same point makes it very clear that it is an older boy:

נער - גדול משמע:

What on Earth is the point of Moshe's voice sounding like a grown up boy? There must be some very serious significance which necessitated this miracle but I don't have the faintest idea what it could be.

(It would have been very clear to everyone that he wasn't actually an older boy since there is no indication that he looked like an older boy so this could not possibly have been to trick Bas Pharaoh into thinking he was born before the decree.)

  • According to my discussion with Alex, the only contradiction is with Rashi on Sotah which is not a problem because it's completely a different subject. So acc. to Ramban נער can refer to an infant also and Rashi in place only states that.
    – Al Berko
    Dec 28, 2018 at 10:03
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    @AlBerko I think you misunderstood Alex. The Ramban is explaining the words in the Passuk and why he thinks you don't need Rashi's Peshat in the first place. He is not explaining Rashi. Rashi is not saying that he is a baby and had the voice of a baby.
    – Eliyahu
    Dec 28, 2018 at 14:38

2 Answers 2


This may very well be one of Ramban's objections to Rashi's explanation:

ועוד מה טעם שיזכיר הכתוב עובי קולו

And furthermore, what reason is there that Scripture should mention the thickness of his voice?

While this is not quite asking why it should have occurred in the first place, it is similar to your question in that it sees no point for this.

However, there are a couple of explanations offered by the later commentaries.

R. Judah Loewe explains that this was engendered by God for this specific instance in order to cause Pharaoh's daughter to take pity on him; i.e. had he sounded like a regular baby she would not have taken pity on him:

ויראה שלא היה זה במשה בטבעו ולא היה זה אלא לשעה מגיד לך שהיה בוכה בכי גדול בקול גדול והיה מאת הקב"ה כדי שתחמול עליו

And it appears that this was not in Moses naturally; this was only for the moment, to tell you that he was crying a great cry with a great voice, and it was from God so that she would take pity on him.

He doesn't explicitly state why this type of crying would be more likely to invoke the pity of Pharaoh's daughter, but from the way he describes it as "a great cry" he might mean that it was exceptionally loud for a baby, and had he merely cried like a regular baby Pharaoh's daughter would not have noticed it.

R. Ephraim Luntschitz actually explains this in line with your rejected suggestion:

וי"א שלכך נשמע קולו כנער כדי שתחשוב בת פרעה שנולד מזמן רב דאל"כ לא תציל אותו מספק כי שמא הוא הגואל ונולד באותו יום שאמרו האצטגנונים

And some say that for this [reason] his voice was heard like a na'ar — in order that the daughter of Pharaoh should think that he was born a while ago. For if not [for this] she wouldn't save him, out of concern that he might be the redeemer and was born on the day the astrologers said.

  • 1. כל הכבוד for finding those explanations 2. to the answers, see my comment to the OP, an infant (תינוק) can not be called נער in any way. I would -1 it for I think it's wrong to think G-d would create THE rescuer and fail him for his normal voice, but technically it addresses the question.
    – Al Berko
    Dec 28, 2018 at 9:26
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    @AlBerko Ramban demonstrates that נער can refer to a baby: ועל דעתי אין צורך לכל זה כי הילד מיום הולדו יקרא נער כמו שנאמר מה נעשה לנער היולד וכן ויבקש דוד את האלהים בעד הנער ויקרא ילד והוא גדול כמו שנאמר בישמעאל וכן והנער נעררוצה לומר שהוא ילד קטן בן כ"ד חדשים כי כאשר נגמל מחלב מיד העלתהו כדכתיב ותינק את בנה עד גמלה אותו ותעלהו עמה כאשר גמלתו
    – Alex
    Dec 28, 2018 at 9:43
  • תרתי דסתרי if the infant is called נער there's no question at all. I hate the lack of definitions. If so, the question is on Rashi, not on Torah - Torah says נער meaning infant acc to Rambam. Period.
    – Al Berko
    Dec 28, 2018 at 9:56
  • @AlBerko Correct, Ramban disagrees with Rashi. The question here is specifically on Rashi's explanation, not Ramban's, and the answers I presented are also within Rashi's explanation.
    – Alex
    Dec 28, 2018 at 9:57
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    @AlBerko I think you misunderstood Alex. The Ramban is explaining the words in the Passuk and why he thinks you don't need Rashi's Peshat in the first place. He is not explaining Rashi. Rashi is not saying that he is a baby and had the voice of a baby.
    – Eliyahu
    Dec 28, 2018 at 14:39

Yalkut Reuveni and Baal HaTurim state that the pasuk, V’hinei naar bocheh, “And behold! A youth was crying,” refers to Moshe’s older brother Aharon. That is, Aharon was standing with Miriam and crying over Moshe. Aharon three years old, but he was had accompanied Miriam to watch over Moshe. Since the Jewish People did not adopt Egyptian styles, it was obvious that the boy who was standing guard over Moshe, and who was crying out of fear for the infant, was none other than Aharon, a Jewish boy. If he was Jewish, it made sense that the infant was also Jewish.

The explanation that Moshe sounded older was in order to say that he cried in a manner to arouse sympathy. a screaming infant might have repulsed the daughter of Par'o so that she would not have been willing to pick him up.

  • 1
    Your first paragraph is interesting and doesn't seem to answer the question. Do you have a source for your second?
    – msh210
    Dec 28, 2018 at 12:39
  • @msh210 I didn't have time to go into more detail. I will edit a longer answer when I get home or after Shabbat Dec 28, 2018 at 14:52
  • "a screaming infant might have repulsed" etc....really? I thought it was some sort of biological/instinctual thing that women respond to crying babies by soothing and nurturing them. It's the MEN that have a general revulsion to crying babies, especially when the guy is trying to sleep or eat in peace, IMHO.
    – Gary
    Dec 28, 2018 at 22:17
  • It is a matter of how the baby looks while crying and who the woman is. If the baby is crying in hunger or in pain, the mother wants to take care of it. If it is a woman who is not connected and the baby is screaming and slobbering, the reaction would tend to be different. This was crying in such a way as to create sympathy. I will has to update the post to be more cleasr when I have a little more time. Dec 29, 2018 at 23:19

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