Friday, June 13, 2008

Behaalotecha: Two Rebellions, Two Reactions

When Israel complains in this week's parsha, Moses asks G-d for an out, he wants to quit. When his siblings, Miriam and Aaron complain, God takes issue with them but Moses is silent. Why the different reactions from Moses?

Jonathan Sacks, here , says that the different reactions from Moses can be explained by his humility. The first rebellion, where the Israelites ask for meat, was against God. Moses despaired because he saw his message was not getting accross, Israel had not changed. When Miriam and Aaron rebel, the attack by those closest to him is deeply personal. But the Torah wants us to know that Moses' equanimity was not due to indifference, nor due to hurt, but due to his great humility. He cared about nothing other than the cause, about God and about freedom and responsility.

"Humility is the silence of the self, in the presence of that which is greater than oneself."

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