Parshat Beshalach 5774: In Search of Moshe’s Leadership Paradigm of Inspiration, Unity, Empathy

Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parshat Beshalach is being sponsored by R’ Moshe and Marla Braun (Moshe Braun – Fine Judaic Art) and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh in honor of Marla’s birthday on 14th Sh’vat and the Yarhtzeit on the 10th of Sh’vat of the 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe, The Freidiker Rebbe Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson zy’a. To the Braun family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

Please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3


Parshat Beshalach 5774: In Search of Moshe’s Leadership Paradigm of Inspiration, Unity, Empathy

by Moshe Burt

Near the end of our Parsha, we read:

“And the hands of Moshe were heavy and they took a rock and placed it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Chur supported his hands, one on either side, and his hands remained an expression of trust until sunset.” (Sefer Sh’mos, Perek 17, posuk 12

Rabbi Pliskin in Growth Through Torah cites a Rashi which states;

“…Moshe did not sit on a comfortable pillow, but a rock. There was a battle going on with Amalek and Moshe wanted to feel the suffering of the people. This, said Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz, is a lesson in feeling for another person’s suffering. Not only should we mentally feel their pain, but it is proper to do some action in order to feel some of the discomfort yourself when someone else experiences pain. This way [through empathy] you actually feel his pain.” (Growth Through Torah, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, page 177, citing from Daas Torah, page 152)

R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, z’l comments in the new Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Daniel Haberman), Sefer Shemos, Parsha Beshalach Perek 17, posukim 9-12 (pages 296-298):

Attacked by Amalek, Israel is compelled to meet the test of battle. However, it is not the sword of Israel, but the staff of Moshe, that defeats Amalek. And it is not the magical power of the staff, but the emunah, the devoted trust in Hashem, as signified and awakened by the uplifted hand, that prevails over Amalek.

…Aaron and Chur were at Moshe’s side as the representatives of the people. Not the leader’s faith, but the people’s faith, which the leader inspired, led to victory.

This attribute of empathy possessed by Moshe Rabbeinu stems back to his young days in Pharaoh’s palace, and led to his fleeing for his life from Mitzrayim and his forty year exile.

Rabbi Dr. Yosef Gerber cites Shemos Perek 2, pasuk 11 and quotes Rashi in his sefer, “Today is Eternity” (page 164):

Moshe Rabbeinu…. in particular, his rise to greatness was a consequence of the outstanding way in which he was… able to identify with the needs and share the burden of others.

The pasuk tells us… “Moshe became great and he went out to his brethren.” Rashi explains that Moshe was being groomed by Pharaoh as a future ruler. When a person receives exceptional favors, he is normally drawn towards his benefactor. Yet despite Pharaoh having chosen and elevated him, Moshe “went out to his brethren.” He was not drawn towards the Egyptians. In fact, the reverse is true. He became profoundly involved with Am Yisrael and he saw and felt the depth of their suffering.

Rabbi Gerber then indicates that Moshe’s empathy was not limited to the view on a national level, but when he saw a Mitzri beating a Jew, he put his life on the line to get involved. And when, a short while later, he saw 2 Jews fighting, he again got involved. And after running away from Pharaoh, he had the courage and compassion to defend the daughters of Yithro from shepherds who threatened them. Rabbi Gerber notes that this empathy showed yet again in the story of the lamb who strayed from the flock which Moshe was shepherding.

What this and other citings from our Parsha and from throughout Torah indicate is that Moshe Rabbeinu was as one with the entire B’nai Yisrael. He made himself to feel what the B’nai Yisrael was feeling in order not to lead from aloof or afar, and to beseech Hashem on their behalf, knowing what suffering they were undergoing.

These same standards of inspirational leadership, unity and empathy within Moshe Rabbeinu are needed today regarding bonding with one’s fellow Jews on a national level, regardless of their level of observance, concerning OUR collective physical and economic security, Jewish possession and ownership of the Land, Pidyan Sh’vu’im as in the cases of Jonathan Pollard, Sholom Rubashkin and the MIAs. Such standards of inspirational leadership and empathy with our brethren are vital and crucial as well on a local, communal level concerning no less important needs; shidduchim problems for the 30s, 40s and 50s plus as well as for Kohanim, parnossa and unemployment, to stand up, act and advocate for the aggrieved; for the victims of spousal abuse — physical, psychological, financial and otherwise, child abuse — at home, b’derech as well as at school.

The marks of a real Jewish leader then seem to be the attributes of inspiration, unity and empathy — inspiration as a Leader-By-Example who is thus worthy of following, a spirit of unity with the klal, and with empathy — as much for and with each Jewish brother, as with the broad Jewish national purpose.

Finally, Sefer Shem Mishmuel (Shem Mishmuel, translated by Rabbi Zvi Belovski, Parshat Beshalach, pages 132-135) connects Moshe Rabbeinu’s inspiration, unity and empathy with the “Mon” and with Shabbos forming a hidden, but eternal trio:

One of the lesser-known aspects of the mon was that the verses describing its arrival were said to Moshe Rabbeinu on Shabbos itself.

“They journeyed from Eilim, and… the Children of Israel came to the Sin wilderness, …between Eilim and Sinai, on the fifteenth of the second month after their Yetziyat Mitzrayim.” (Shemos, Perek 16, posuk 1)

The Gemara expounds:

“That day was Shabbos, as it says, ‘In the morning you will see the glory of Hashem.’ And it futher says, ‘For six days you shall gather it.” (Shabbos 87a)

“The mon fell in the merit of Moshe.” (Ta’anit 9a)

Not only did Klal Yisrael receive the mon in Moshe’s merit, but he is even described as eating it himself.

“The man ate the bread of angels [mon]” (Tehillim 78:25)

Moshe was commanded by Hashem concerning the mon. His merit brought it to Klal Yisrael, and he ate it himself.

The innate connection between mon, Moshe and Shabbos is now clear — …. the mon was given on Shabbos via Moshe (who was himself described as a mon eater), for each is intrinsically connected to the other two. These three entities portray… the three primary domains — time, space and the human soul. Shabbos in time, mon in space, and Moshe in human soul.

Shem Mishmuel finishes by citing a midrash and providing commentary:

Moshe saw that Klal Yisrael had no rest in Mitzrayim, so he went to Pharaoh and said “If someone owns a slave but doesn’t want to give him one day a week to rest, the slave will die. So too, if you don’t give your slaves one day a week to rest, they will die.” Pharaoh agreed and Moshe selected Shabbos as that rest day. (Based on Shemos Rabbah 1:28)

…Moshe chose Shabbos, as he knew that this was Hashem’s chosen rest day…. Moshe and Shabbos are intrinsically linked. Moshe Rabbeinu had to be the one who chose Shabbos as the day of rest for Klal Yisrael, for he and it were forever linked.

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brethren Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem, Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!

Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.