Rabbi Shmuel Weiss
Though Moses' name is mentioned only once in the entire Passover Haggadah, no one would deny that he is the central figure in the story of the exodus.
Though Moses' name is mentioned only once in the entire Passover Haggadah, no one would deny that he is the central figure in the story of the exodus. It was his leadership together with our intrinsic greatness as a people which combined to move heaven and earth, rewrite history, and dramatically transform the Children of Israel from downtrodden slaves to holy princes. Yet, it is sometimes difficult to understand Moses' frame of mind. Particularly puzzling is his reluctance to serve as leader of the nation, even when he knows that his leadership is indispensable to their freedom. He steadfastly resists being selected as spokesman. At one point, after much debate with the Almighty, Moses says: "Send whomever you want to send (but don't send me!)." While this sounds like Moses is clearly trying to shrug off his responsibility, the Midrash offers a strikingly different explanation. Moses, says the Midrash, is really saying to Hashem: "Send the person whom you are going to send in the future to redeem the Jewish people, namely, Elijah the prophet! He is the messenger of the ultimate, final redemption, so why wait? Let us now proceed straight to the end of the process!"
Moses, we see now, was not evading nor avoiding his commitment to his fellow Jews he was more of our advocate than we realize. Moses knew that, after we entered the land of Israel, we would sin and be exiled, then redeemed again, then exiled again. He recognized that the process would repeat itself many times. So, out of the deepest love for the Children of Israel, he argues with Hashem, "Don't send me; send Elijah and get it all taken care of! Why go through the undulations of redemption, exile, redemption, exile? Let us usher in the final redemption right here and now!"
However, Hashem overrules Moses' brilliant, passionate appeal. Says Hashem: Redemption does not work that way. Redemption does not come all at one time. Redemption comes little by little, slowly, one step at a time. Elijah will indeed announce the ultimate redemption, I will indeed send him, too. But now it is your time, your moment of glory, and you must assume the role you were meant to play.
We face deep and dangerous challenges in the Jewish world today: assimilation, a lack of Jewish knowledge, intermarriage, internecine fighting, and increasing polarization between Jew and Jew in Israel. Yet, with all of our problems, we are clearly making strides toward the final redemption. A renaissance of Jewish learning, the creation of the state of Israel, and the ingathering of the exiles are just a few of the miracles in our midst. We may not yet have reached the moment of the Mashiach (Messiah), but as long as we are moving in the right direction, then we are sure to arrive at "that great and awesome day." May we soon hear the mighty shofar blast of the final redemption, in the Hebrew month of Nissan, the season of our liberation. For in Nissan we were redeemed, and in Nissan we shall be redeemed.
Rabbi Shmuel Weiss, who has Atlanta connections, is the director of the Jewish Outreach Center in Raanana, Israel.
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