By Phyllis J. Lubin

“And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him” (Exodus 2:4).

In Parashas Sh’mos, we are all taught how when Moshe was sent hidden in a basket into the Nile River, his sister (Miriam) stood from afar to watch over him. When Pharaoh’s daughter saved him from the water, it was his actual sister Miriam who suggested a nursemaid, their mother, to care for baby Moshe.

What do we deduce about Miriam’s characteristics, just from this little incident? What do we see about her? She is protective, capable, and brave–it would take a lot of courage. Enterprising, quick-witted, and clever. What else? Obedient, because I’m sure her mother coached her. Sensitive? I think she was mature for her age, don’t you? I think she was unselfish. These are all wonderful qualities, and she displays these at a very early age.

This past Shabbos, the care my youngest daughter Lea gave to her brother Yussie reminded me of this Biblical event. Somehow, there is a hole in our fence between our backyard and the neighbors’. Our Yussie has found the hole, and hearing the fun the boys in the neighboring yard were having, decided to squeeze through the hole to pay the boys a visit.

“Mom, Yussie went through the fence to play in the neighbor’s backyard!”

“Can you see him, Lea?”

“Don’t worry, I am keeping watch through the fence.”

Throughout her life, Lea (and all her siblings) have been watching over Yussie to make sure he is OK.

Every week, Lea attends the Kulanu Sunday-morning program. Although she shadows another boy during the program, she always has her eyes out to make sure everything is going smoothly for her brother. On occasion, Yussie has the opportunity to mainstream in a classroom at HAFTR when his class in public school is not in session, and there again Lea has been my eyes and ears, making sure he is doing well.

Children who have siblings with special needs are a special breed unto themselves. I see that they seem more caring and have more sympathy for the feelings of others (be they “special” or “typical”). Like the prophetess Miriam, these siblings are oftentimes courageous when they might need to support those less able. All of Yussie’s siblings have a special ingredient in their personality for having such a life experience! v

Phyllis Joy Lubin is an attorney with Maidenbaum & Sternberg, LLP, who resides in Cedarhurst with her husband, Leonard. They have six children: Naftali, Shoshana, Rivka, Rochel, Yosef, and Lea and a daughter-in-law, Nina. The author welcomes your questions and comments at

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