The leadership of Moses


In the Book of Shemot, the enslaved Israelites in Egypt gathered together and the great leader of the Jewish people rose up: Moses.

Moses first makes his appearance as a three-month old baby and he is called “yeled" - "child", but when the Pharaoh’s daughter opens the ark she sees a young boy crying: “naar boje”, explains Rashi, a child with a young voice.

It is hard to understand what the Torah wishes to teach us. Maybe he had a defect, and his voice was that of an adult, but why? What was the purpose? Maybe, by introducing us the life of Moses, he wants to teach us that he is already born with the responsibility of an adult and has identified with the suffering of his people, which is why he cried.

What was it that characterised Moses’ personality and enabled him to become the person who would lead the Jewish people, liberate them and give them the word of God?

We see in the Torah three short episodes that give us a few hints about his personality.
In the first, Moses kills an Egyptian who intimidated a Hebrew slave. In the second, he tried to reconcile two Hebrews and reprimands the one who began the conflict. In the third, he saves foreign youngsters from the hands of their oppressors.

We can see in all these actions that he acted in search of justice, without considering the consequences of such actions on himself.

The first case made him flee Egypt later. The second action led complaints to be made against him. The third, his first steps in Midian, shows how little he cared about his own destiny when it was a case of seeing justice done.

Another important characteristic highlighted by our wise men was his great care not to steal as he led his flock into the desert, as well as his humility. In the Midrash we see that one lamb escaped the flock and that Moses ran after it until he reached a forest. They came to a small lake and the lamb started drinking. When Moses reached him, he said: "I did not know you were running because you were thirsty. You must be tired”. He picked him up and carried him back to the flock."

The Holy One said at the time: “You have mercy to lead the flock and I will trust my flock to you."

However, Moses had a defect and it was very unfavourable for someone who should lead his people. Moses stammered.

When Moses tried to reject his mission, saying: "I am not a man of words, yesterday or the day before, I am a stammerer", God replied that he had given man a mouth and could make him deaf or dumb.

Why did God not cure Moses of his defect, his stammering, to make it easier for him to fulfil his mission?

Haran, Rabbenu Nisim, gives the answer, explaining: “To stop people thinking that the Israelites followed Moses because of his oratory and his dialectics, and that lies were taken to be true. On the contrary, because of his stammer, we can be sure that his words were accepted because of the greatness of divine revelation”.

The absolute truth of the Torah of Israel demands the extraction of all external charismatic elements from the person of the Redeemer, for let it never be said that those who left Egypt were attracted by mere rhetorical power.

So, Moses’ defect was the seal of truth. He ensures that our people was not swept away by a demagogue who knew how to handle the multitudes. His words prevail thanks to the force of absolute truth.