No matter who you are
I recently heard a recorded shiur from Rav Ezriel Tauber Shlita ( a great rabbi from Monsey, N.Y.) in which he told over a conversation he had with a Chassidic man. The man asked him “What do you want out of your children?” The Rabbi replied: “To be good religious Jews.” “And what else?” inquired the man. The Rabbi replied “To be tzaddikim and Talmidei Hachamim. “And what else?” the man persisted. At this point the rabbi was puzzled, “What do you want?” he asked. The man explained:”The Rambam (who’s yahrtzeit is this Friday) writes (Hilchot Teshuva 5:2) that every Jew can be a tzaddik like Moshe Rabbenu, so why are you aiming any lower?”. Says Rabbi Tauber “This man defeated me!”. We must set our goals high. As long as we aspire to get there, Hashem can help us get there. It may not be as quick or easy as we would like, but if we really want to the Rambam reminds us that we can!
Having said this it is worthwhile to take a moment and find out who was Moshe rabbenu – who was born in this week’s Parasha – so that we can understand what we are aspiring for. In the tiferet Yisrael on the mishnayot in the end of Masechet kidushin there is a famous story told about Moshe rabbenu. (the validity of the story is subject to controversy, but the message is 100% true regardless.) The story goes as follows. When the Jews left Egypt, the nations of the world all heard of the great miracles performed by Moshe rabbenu. There was king from a foreign land who wished to understand the secret of Moshe’s greatness . this king had two advisors. One was an expert artist, who could paint a perfect portrait of anyone. The other was a great wise man who could study a face and tell all about the nature of the person. So the king had an idea. He would send the artist to paint Moshe and have the wise man study him, and so he did.
After studying Moshe’s face the was man proclaimed “This man is a terrible person. He is a crook and a murderer!”. The King was furious! “One of you is lying to me and will pay the price!!” he cried. “please spare us! We speak the truth.” They replied in unison. The king said “I will have to go see for myself”. And so, the king set out on a journey to the jewish camp in the desert. After explaining the whole situation to Moshe , Moshe replied: “Everything that you have seen and heard is absolute truth. But, you must understand, that IS my greatness! In my nature I am full of terrible middot, but have trained myself to overcome them. This is what makes me great. Otherwise I would be no greater than a dry piece of wood!”.
In this weeks parasha Moshe goes from being a youth to the 80 year old leader and savior of Am Yisrael. What happened in the middle? Moshe worked on himself for many years unti he became who he was! Perhaps this is the message of the Rambam. Every Jew can work on himself, no matter what sort of a person he may be. If he does so he will reveal the tremendous greatness that lies within every Jew!
May hashem help us to indeed strive for and reach true gratness – just like Moshe Rabbenu!