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Why was Moses chosen to lead the Jewish People out of Egypt?

by Rabbi Ari Shishler

  

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G-d didn’t need to take auditions for the role of “Jewish Redeemer.” I mean, He didn’t search for a candidate with the right qualities to pick as leader. From the beginning of Time, He had orchestrated the Egyptian Exile and Exodus, and had chosen the main actors.

G-d had selected and dispatched the unique soul of Moses to Earth as part of His original master plan. The Torah describes how Moses was picked for the job for our benefit, so we could learn what it takes to qualify as a Jewish leader.

We know that Moses was pre-selected for the position, because from the day he was born his home was filled with a spiritual glow.1 He was also born circumcised,2 another sign of innate holiness.

Humility means you see someone else's potential and appreciate that, if they had been given your opportunity, they may have done better than you have
To tell us why Moses made the perfect Jewish leader, the Torah shares some important insights.

  • He took a personal interest in his people’s welfare, putting himself at risk for them. Young Moses took a fact-finding mission to establish the welfare of Jewish slaves in Egypt. Moses grew up in the royal palace,3 immune to the suffering. He wanted to see his people’s plight for himself. When he saw an Egyptian beat a Jewish slave, Moses endangered his own life to save the Jew.4
  • While acting as a shepherd for his father-in-law, Moses went the extra mile to tend to a stray lamb.5 This showed a key ingredient in leadership - personal concern for the individual who strays from the flock.
  • Humility is a key ingredient of Jewish leadership. It took G-d a full week to convince Moses to accept the position of redeemer.6 Moses wasn’t trying to play hard to get, he honestly believed someone else might have been better suited to the job than he was. Humility is not about pretending you have no talents. Humility means you see someone else’s potential and appreciate that, if they had been given your opportunity, they may have done better than you have.7 Moses, as a perfect Jewish leader, was the icon of humility.

By the way, Moses (our first redeemer) and Moshiach (the ultimate redeemer) share the same soul.8 Which might just be the best explanation of why he got the job.

Footnotes

  • 1. Midrash Exodus Rabba 1:20, Talmud Sotah 12a.
  • 2. Exodus Rabba 1:23.
  • 3. Exodus 2:3-10.
  • 4. Exodus 2:11-12.
  • 5. Exodus Rabba 2:2.
  • 6. Jerusalem Talmud Berachot 9:7.
  • 7. See Lekutei Sichot Vol. 1 279-280.
  • 8. Exodus Rabba 2:6, Zohar I 253a and see commentary of Ohr HaChaim on Genesis 49:11.

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RELATED CATEGORIES

History » Desert Sojourn

Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Moshiach
The Messiah. Moshiach is the person who will usher in an era of peace and tranquility for all of humanity when there will be no jealousy or hate, wars or famine. This is a fundamental Jewish belief.
Moses
[Hebrew pronunciation: Moshe] Greatest prophet to ever live. Led the Jews out of Egyptian bondage amidst awesome miracles; brought down the Tablets from Mount Sinai; and transmitted to us word-for-word the Torah he heard from G-d's mouth. Died in the year 1272 BCE.
Exodus
1. The miraculous departure of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage in 1312 BCE. 2. The second of the Five Books of Moses. This book describes the aforementioned Exodus, the giving of the Torah, and the erection of the Tabernacle.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.