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G-d Alone

By: Mrs Malka Hubscher

From the very moment Hashem appears to Moshe at the burning bush, he feels unworthy of leading the people out of Egypt. Despite Moshe’s many attempts to convince Hashem to send someone else, ultimately G-d’s plan prevails and Moshe leaves Midyan and returns to Egypt. Initially, Moshe is met with great support from the people. They are receptive to the messages he bears from Hashem and hopeful that their redemption is imminent. However, when Moshe confronts Pharaoh the results are devastating. Not only does he dismiss the authority of the G-d of the Jews and mocks Moshe’s requests for a three-day religious festival, he makes life even more difficult for the Jewish slaves. Pharaoh demands the slaves produce the same quota of bricks but refuses to provide them the raw materials to do so. The people are distressed and blame Moshe for their increased suffering. Moshe turns to Hashem and says (Bereshit 5: 22-23)

 G-d, why have you dealt ill with this people? Why did You send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has dealt ill with this people; and you have not saved your people.”

The Ibn Ezra explains that Moshe was aware that Pharaoh would not immediately agree to free the people, but he never expected life to get harder for the Jews!  Moshe assumed that slowly Pharaoh would ease the burdens of the slaves until eventually they were freed.

Rashi, quoting this Midrash contrasts Moshe to the Avot. They remained faithful and loyal despite setbacks while Moshe loses faith and questions G-d when facing his very first crisis.

 “You have questioned My ways [of running the world] which is unlike Abraham, to whom I said, “For in Isaac will be called your seed” (Gen. 21:12), and afterwards I said to him, “Bring him up there for a burnt offering” (Gen. 22:2), yet he did not question Me.’

Hashem responds to Moshe:

“Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for by a strong hand shall he let them go, and by a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land.”

The midrash, therefore, concludes that Moshe is punished for this lack of faith, and it is for this reason he will not lead the nation into the land of Israel.

“Therefore, now you will see. What is done to Pharaoh you will see, but not what is done to the kings of the seven nations when I bring them [the Children of Israel] into the Land of Israel.”

Moshe will only witness G-d’s miracles in the land of Egypt but not in the Land of Israel.

However, a close reading of the text may reveal that Moshe’s lack of faith is not in Hashem but rather in himself. He asks “Why did you send ME?” Moshe emphasizes that from the moment he came to Pharaoh, things have only gotten worse for the people.  Hashem’s answer is important for Moshe’s own development as well as for our understanding of the role of leaders and prophets. Hashem responds to Moshe (6:1):

“Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh…”.  Moshe feels unworthy and unprepared to take on the public and important role of leading the people out of Egypt. Hashem is teaching Moshe that redemption comes not through a man, leader or prophet but through G-d alone. Moshe must learn that he is simply a messenger, not the driving force behind the redemption.  Hashem’s ultimate redemption will prevail through whatever messengers or means He finds worthy. The Jewish people must remain steadfast in their faith in G-d’s redemption knowing that He will find the worthy messengers in every generation.

Shabbat Shalom








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