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Humility At The Bush

It ain't the heat, it's the humility.

Yogi Berra

The time has come to redeem the Jewish people from Egypt. Hashem appears to Moshe at the Burning Bush [that's "the heat"] and says, in effect, “Moshe, you’re the MAN!! You get the merit of redeeming the Jewish people from servitude”. Wow! What a great career opportunity. King, Prime Minister, President and Miracle Man all in one. In the modern world of politics we know how much effort is invested by the various candidates to convince people that they are the IDEAL candidate. Promises are made, hands are shook, babies are kissed, all for the golden opportunity to LEAD. Here, Moshe gets the job handed to him on a silver platter - by G-d Himself. What an honor [or "honour" if I may wax English for a moment]!

“Wait”, says Moshe. “Not me!” If not you, then whom? “Bee A-donai, shlach na bi‎’yad tishlach – Please G-d [Moshe pleads!], send whomever you will send”. Moshe makes a cryptic statement. To whom is he referring? Who SHOULD Hashem send?

Well, here the Sages get involved and offer various explanations. Rashi says famously that he is referring to his older brother Aharon. A medrash suggests that he is referring to Moshiach. Another medrash says that he means Eliyahu Hanavi. All distinguished personalities. We can still understand Moshe on some level. The aforementioned individuals are more suitable for the job, claims Moshe in his great humility. Humility yes, but within the realm of human comprehension. [Now we got humility. Thanks Yogi!]

But then we move to the Ramban. [Please sit down as you are reading this. The shock may be overwhelming.] The Heilige [“holy” in the vernacular] Ramban says that Moshe essentially said as follows: “Ribbono Shel Olam, EVERY SINGLE JEW IS MORE SUITABLE THAN MYSELF FOR THIS TASK. It doesn’t matter whom. Yonah the Plumber, Kobi the cab driver, Itzik the guy who stands behind the counter at the falafel store, Yankel the laundry guy. Every Jew is more worthy than I". This is a display of humility that is beyond belief. Moshe wasn’t joking, he really meant it.

It is this same Ramban who writes in his famous letter that I must try to discern in every person how he is superior to me. “Vi’chol adam yihiye gadol mimcha bi’aynecha”. This obligation applies not only to tzaddikim like Moshe Rabbeinu but to each and every one of us. An honest look will reveal that in fact every person we meet IS superior to us in some way.

The Holy Tolna Rebbe Ztz”l of Bayit Vegan was once at the Kotel Ha’maaravi with his grandson [liheebadel bain chayim lichayim], the present Rebbe, Mori Vi’Rabi Shlita [from whom I heard this story on numerous occasions]. On his way out the Rebbe Ztz”l spotted a Jew whom he recognized. The following dialogue ensued [approximately]: “Shalom Aleichem!!” The man answered “Rebbe, if you would know what a Rasha I am you would not greet me like that”. The Rebbe replied “What are you talking about? You are a better Jew than I am!” “Rebbe, I was recently released from jail for committing a horrific crime”. “You are still greater than I am”, the Rebbe insisted. “I don’t believe you”, the man said. “Well, then I will prove it to you. I am going to swear at the kotel!” Now, the Rebbe suffered from terrible pains in his legs. His doctor said that he had never seen such diseased legs in his life. He was also very old at this time. The people accompanying him tried to dissuade him, but he wouldn’t hear of it. He proceeded to embark on a painstaking walk from the parking lot all the way back to the kotel. When he finally arrived he said “I swear [!] that Ploni ben Plonis [he said the man’s name and mother’s name] is a better Jew than I am”. Only then did he slowly return to the parking lot. The man looked on in disbelief.

Now, I know many people who were personally acquainted with the Rebbe, have studied much about his life and I would be hard pressed to name anyone in this generation who reached his level of righteousness - yet he genuinely thought that this criminal was superior to himself. This, sweetest friends, is the middah of Moshe Rabbeinu.

We are presently at war with our enemies. We need every zchus we can get. Chazal say in the Talmud Yerushalmi, that in the time of King Achav, despite the fact that Jews worshipped idols they didn’t fall in the battlefield because there was peace amongst them. The way to achieve this peace is to view every Jew with Moshe Rabbeinu’s perspective. Honestly and sincerely viewing every Jew as superior – and then making him feel that way. According to another Chazal [quoted in the sefer Reishis Chochma] one of the questions we will be asked after 120 years is "Did you make your friend KING over yourself ["himlachta chavercha alecha"]. Every Jew a King [or Queen of course]. This approach should be zchus for all of klal yisrael until the day when we see the fulfillment of the bracha “Vinosati Shalom ba’aretz ushichavtem vi’ain machrid”. Amen keyn yehi ratzon!!

Good Shabbos Beloved Friends!

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Segula - 40 days at the Kotel

About me

  • I'm Rabbi Ally Ehrman
  • From Old City Jerusalem, Israel
  • I am a Rebbe in Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh.
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