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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Skorka

Behaalotecha – The Virtue of Humility

From the account in the book of Exodus (2: 11-17) it is clear that Moses had been chosen by God for one of the most important missions in the history of humanity because of his bravery, courage and dedication to the dignity of the people. This parashah emphasizes another of the qualities that characterized his personality: his great humility (12: 3). He was not a perfect being: for the error of giving an angry speech he was punished with the penalty of not being able to enter the land of Israel (Numbers 20: 1-12; Psalm 106: 33). He was a thoroughly human being.

The context in which the virtue of the humility of Moses appears in this parashah is when his siblings sharply criticized him for taking as his wife a woman of Cush. They chastised him to his face and he, being humble, fell silent (according to Rabbi Natan in Sifrei in Behaalotecha, paragraph 100).

However, in this parashah there is another story that even better manifests this virtue of this great leader. God commanded Moses to gather 70 elders in the tabernacle to be spiritually inspired by him so that they could serve as judges among the people. Two of the elders, Eldad and Medad, were found to be prophesying among the people without the sanction of Moses. Joshua, always Moses’ faithful disciple, zealously guarded the leadership of his teacher by proposing to imprison them. Moses rejects this improper suggestion by explaining: “I wish that all the Lord´s people were prophets and that the Almighty would put His Spirit on all of them!” Thus, the true leader encourages others who possess the gift of leadership and does not seek to be the only one with authority.

This is a lesson that many leaders of peoples and nations around the world have not yet learned.

Shabbat shalom!


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