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"G-d spoke to Moshe and said to him, 'I am Hashem.' I appeared to Avraham, to Yitzchak, and to Ya'akov as Kel Shakkai, but with My Name Hashem I did not make Myself known to them" (Shemos 6:2-3).

Rashi explains that Hashem reprimanded Moshe Rabbeinu for speaking strongly to Him and saying "Why have You done evil to this people, why have You sent me? (ibid. 5:22).

Why does the Torah tell us something negative about our greatest of leaders?

Actually, the Torah is really telling us Moshe's virtues.

We know that Moshe had all of the midos tovos (good attributes) the Torah requires. Most of all, he was outstanding in his modesty, as the Torah bears witness (Bemidbar 12:3), "Now the man Moshe was exceedingly humble, more than any person on the face of the earth." Nevertheless, when the Torah introduces to us the man who will save us from our troubles and free us from bondage in Egypt, what does the Torah use to demonstrate his character? His selflessness and his total dedication to his brothers and sisters; the Jewish People.

Moshe is enjoying the luxuries of the King's palace, being raised as the prince of Egypt. He could have easily chosen to ignore the plight of the Jewish slaves. He could have placated his conscience by telling himself that there is nothing he can do to help them. Or, he could have convinced himself that he could help them more by behaving himself and being on Par'oh's good side, rather than jeopardize his and their safety by killing the Egyptian taskmaster. But Moshe does not look for excuses. With total selflessness, he defends his brother from his oppressor. As a result, he is forced to flee from Egypt and remain in exile for 67 years! One might argue that in his fit of temper he sealed the fate of the Jewish People. But finally, Hashem addressed him at the Burning Bush and insisted that he, and only he, would be the savior of the Hebrews.

And it is this same Moshe who speaks strongly against the Almighty Himself, not afraid of reproof from Him. For when it comes to the benefit of others, Moshe puts his own interests aside and concerns himself only with their freedom and happiness.

This is the true leader of Israel and the Torah expects us to be impressed with his sense of values and to emulate them ourselves putting our own interests aside before the interests of Klal Yisroel. I remember when I was a bachur, the wedding of my Rebby's daughter, Goldeh Freide, to Baruch Twersky. Being part of the family, the Bobover Rebbe zt"l attended, in his very colorful attire. I took the opportunity to stand close to him and ask him some questions that had been bothering me. After the Rebbe had been there quite awhile, his gabbai (attendant) suggested that they leave. The Rebbe knew that his presence gladdened the hearts of the Chosson and Kallah, who were very honored that he shared in their simchah with them, and so he replied that he would like to stay for a while longer. The gabbai, who apparently knew the old Rabbi's physical condition, argued that the Rebbe is certainly in great pain and needs to get home where he can rest and be attended to properly. I heard the Rebbe answer, "So what if a Jew suffers a bit to make other Jews happy!"

I was very impressed with what I had heard and I never forgot it. Such are the great leaders of our People.

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel