February 2020, Fort Walton Beach, Florida, USA
Leadership. Lenin wrote that every few years the oppressed people are allowed to vote and decide which members of the oppressing class will be allowed to oppress them.
Lenin had a pretty dim view of humanity and his own life certainly added nothing to the glory of mankind. But Lenin, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov Lenin, never knew Moshe.
Moshe our teacher, Moshe Rabeinu, Moses of the Bible. Now there is a leader. One of the first qualities of leadership is that one does not wish to become a leader. A true leader is thrust into this position. A true leader does not seek glory or power. A true leader does not oppress those whom he is meant to guide.
Moshe is chosen by God. He is first spoken to at the burning bush, but God has been guiding, and observing Moshe since his birth. He was destined for leadership and a life of hardship. (true leadership is always accompanied by hardship).
When God approaches Moshe with the idea of leadership, the humble soft spoken Moshe musters up the courage to say No.
"And now the cry of the Children of Israel has come to me, and I have seen the the oppression that the Egyptians are oppressing them. And now go and I shall send you to Pharaoh and take my nation, the children of Israel, out of Egypt." (Exodus, chapter 3, verse 9-10)
But Moshe turns down the offer. "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh that I should take out the Children of Israel from Egypt." (Chapter 3, verse 11)
Moshe continues to argue with God, offering all sorts of reasons why he is not the man for the job, why he is totally unsuited for this grand task. God tells him not to worry, God shall be with him every step of the way and guide him, God shall tell Moshe what to say.
But Moshe is still not in agreement. (as he said, we are a stiff necked people, destined to be great lawyers)
" and they shall not believe me and they shall not listen to what I am saying for they will say God has not appeared to you". (Chapter 4, verse 1)
Certainly a valid argument for any reasonable being.
God offers sign after sign, and words of encouragement.
But Moshe has not given up the fight, he still refuses to accept this position of leadership.
10 Moses said to God, “Pardon your servant, God. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”
11 and God said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”
13 But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Send now your message in the hands of whom you should send. (i.e. Please send someone else, anyone but me!.)”
14 Then the God’s anger burned against Moshe and he said, “What about your brother, Aharon/Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see you. 15 You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. 16 He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him."
And now the big question is, why did God choose Moshe?
He was clearly not the man for the job. He was not a public speaker, he was not eloquent, he was not a politician. Clearly for such a task, to approach the great king of Egypt you would want your most polished politician. Why choose a man with no political experience?
The answer is one of conjecture. Certainly we know that Moshe had many qualities that made him a great leader; his deep concern for his fellow man, his concern for all life including animal life, (he was a Shepherd by profession) his willingness to act and risk his life on behalf of his oppressed brethren, his willingness to go into exile after taking action to help others, becoming a wanted man.
But the question is why did God choose a man with so many deficiencies, so many "disabilities" and I believe the answer is profound. God chose Moshe not despite of his disabilities but because of them.
As my dear father would say, the Bible is not merely a history book, it is a moral history, for every event chosen is there to teach us a lesson.
Moshe had a severe speech impediment. He was so afraid of public speaking that he argued repeatedly with God himself!
I believe that God chose Moshe to show us that there are no obstacles in life that cannot be overcome. Who gave man a mouth? I did, says God. Who gave a man a heart? It is God.
We all have obstacles, we all have disabilities, some we can see, some we can feel, some are known only to us, and God. The message here is I have created you and I know your potential. I have faith in you even when you lose faith in me. Rise up Man and do that which you are convinced you could never do. Speak to Kings and Lords, for I will be with you.
Walk into the bank and get that loan, walk into corporate offices and secure that contract, ask out that girl, start that business. In my world there is no impossible.
My father always quoted one of his favorite songs
To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star
God has chosen Moshe, because Moshe is not perfect, because Moshe has a severe disability. Who has given you a body? It is I, says God, and I am telling you that you can do what my faithful servant Moshe did; you can speak to Kings! You can lead the Children of Israel to the Promised Land. You can do it for I have given you that potential.
I have seen people risen from the dead. I have seen people lose all and still come out on top, I have seen those who suffered through the Holocaust build a nation.
and God said to him, "Who gave man a mouth, or who makes one dumb or deaf or seeing or blind? Is it not I, God!" (Chapter 4, verse 11)
Over 3,300 years ago a man was born, into a nation being oppressed, into a life of slavery. Today every child in Israel knows him as Moshe our Teacher. And the lessons continue....
My grandfather Moe (Moses) Katz