Posted on March 23, 2011
by Dani Saks
Most Jews probably know the story of Moses asking Pharoah to free the Jews. He says no, plagues follow and eventually after the tenth plague the Jews are let free. One of the most powerful displays of God’s power in the whole torah. Especially because every Egyptian saw and experienced all of these plagues. A lot of Jews will learn this story from the Pesach Seder, or read about the first seven plagues in this week’s Parsha Va’eira.
However, what has become very commonplace in today’s society is learning a lot of what we now about our religion from the media. I know that as soon as I see the annual TV broadcast of the Hollywood picture The Ten Commandments I know Pesach is just around the corner.
Anyway, in the film Moshe is depicted as doing all the negotiating but this is a common misconception. According to the Torah, Aaron, Moshe’s older brother did all the talking because Moshe had a speech impediment. I don’t know about you but it seems to me that this is too convenient that after explicitly expressing to God that he did not deserve to lead the Jews to freedom, Moshe tells God that he can’t even ask Pharoah to let his people go.
I feel that the Torah is trying to reinforce the fact that Moshe did not want to do this. He didn’t want to become the greatest Jewish leader and prophet of all time.
This is the person who we praise all the time for being a pillar of strength!? Someone who was hesitant about essentially being the hand of God is an individual who we are told is our role model?! The explanation to this issue is actually very simple. The commentators explained back in Shemot that the reason that Moshe originally declined God’s offer to be the leader of the Jewish people was due to his identifying trait. Humility was the reason Moshe declined this offer. Maybe it was humility that motivated Moshe to claim his speech impediment as an excuse for not speaking to Pharoah. So Moshe is as great as we speak of him.
The Torah is merely showing us that no matter who you are you have to remember humility. Even Moshe Rabeinu who had every reason to be confident and egotistical remained one of the most humble Jews in history. If Moshe can do it, I’m sure every Jew can think twice before speaking so highly of themselves.
Humility is a huge part of Judaism. It’s one of the reasons we wear kippot, to recognize our position compared to God at all times. Remember, sometimes you can’t take people for granted. Especially our leaders because they all have something to teach us if we are wise enough to pay attention.