How to “Man-up” and be a leader:
A lesson from the Parsha
Why did G-d choose Moshe to be the leader of the Jews over his brother Ahron who was older and better suited? The answer is in a story that took place in Moshe’s early life. Moshe had grown up and finally leaves the safety of the king’s palace alone. He decides to go see the Jewish slaves, his brothers, probably for the first time in his life. He arrives at the construction site and sees that the Jews are being treated very harshly. As he is watching, an Egyptian guard begins to beat a Jewish man mercilessly. Moshe looks around and sees that there isn’t a man around. He rises up and smites the Egyptian guard, killing him. He quickly buries the body and flees from the scene of the “crime”.
Pharaoh finds out that Moses the Jew, the adopted son of his princess, has killed an Egyptian. Pharaoh decrees that Moshe must be killed. Moshe has no choice but to leave Egypt.
If Moshe had checked and made sure that nobody was around when he killed the Egyptian how did Pharaoh find out about it?
Moshe looked around and saw that there were in fact people all around there but there was “no Man”— none of them were “man enough” to do anything to put an end to the beating this poor Jew was getting! Out of sheer love for his Jewish brother he knowingly forfeited his own safety and attacked the guard.
Imagine if something like that would happen in, say, Germany for example. If a Jew would have attacked a German soldier he would have been shot on the spot!
Egypt was exactly the same. Jews were a subhuman class to be treated however the good Egyptian citizens pleased.
Knowing all of that Moshe still attacked that Egyptian. Without a moment’s hesitation he “threw away” his own life for the sake of one Jewish man — he hadn’t even solved anything, he just stopped one beating…
But Moshe didn’t even take those things into consideration. To him one Jew’s momentary comfort was worth his whole life.
And that is what G-d was looking for in the leader of his people. It’s not enough to speak well or smile nicely to everyone. A leader must be willing to give his life for even a single member of his flock. This is Moshe. This is a Leader.
What’s the lesson for each of us?
Hillel the Great says, “In a place where there are no men, strive to be a man.” Hillel is basically saying that we should be like Moshe. If you come to a city and you look around and see that there is no one doing anything for the furtherance of Judaism, Hillel says: Don’t wait for others to do it! Follow Moshe’s example, and take the initiative, be a leader, be Moshe.