A few years ago, I wrote this musing for parashat Sh'mot. Right now, I happen to be in a position not unlike that I wrote about then. Reworking the words has been reassuring to me. [Adrian, 5762]
Little Ol' Me?
It is not at all surprising that Moshe asks "Little old me? Who am I to go tell Pharaoh what to do?" What is surprising is Gd's answer - or non answer, it would seem.
"And Gd said "I shall be with you, and this shall be a sign for you that it was I who sent you'" (Shemot 3:12)
Huh? Moshe is demonstrating insecurity and humility. How does Gd's answer address Moshe's concerns? How is it helpful, this "non-answer" answer? Is Gd just ignoring Moshe's question and just assuming that, because Gd is Gd, that Moshe will obey without question? Or is there something subtler at work?
I search for examples from my own experience to help me understand this, and discover that they abound. I, like Moshe, have insecurities and tend to always ask "Who am I that you should bestow this responsibility on me?" Which are the situations in which the answers given helped me the most? The ones in which people attempted to assuage my insecurities with praise and flattery? "I know you can do this. You are so good at these kinds of things. Oh, you're the best. C'mon-go for it." Well, those always felt good-but in retrospect I realize those times rarely had the best outcome.
What about those times people just said "Do it!" Well, it was energizing, but a little more guidance could have been useful. I didn't really have everything I needed to "do it." I was missing the one thing that I think perhaps Gd was trying give Moshe.
Once in a while, when presented with a challenge that awes me and I ask, "Why me?" I get a truly useful answer. "We are in this together. I trust you and have confidence in you. " And from this answer I find what it is I most need-confidence in myself. Which is what Moshe needed as well. And what Gd gave him.
When "Sound of Music" was adapted for the screen. A song was added. As a child, it was one of my favorites, and I think I remember most of the words correctly:
I have confidence in sunshine.
I have confidence in rain.
I have confidence that spring will come again.
Besides which, you see
I have confidence in me.
(My apologies to Mr. Hammerstein if I bollixed the lyrics up.)
Another modern day song tells us "Oh Lord it's Hard To Be Humble."
Micah told us "Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your Gd." Doing so requires a balance. Humility and assurance. Without the humility we cannot humble ourselves. Without the assurance, we don't have the strength to do justice nor the compassion to love mercy. For justice and mercy are sometimes hard things to do.
Our Jewish texts and traditions are brimming with these brilliant philosophies of balance. It is, perhaps, one key to our longevity and our survival.
May your Shabbat be one of humility and confidence.
©2002 by Adrian A. Durlester
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