Vort from the Rav: Shemos

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Ex. 3:10

לְכָה וְאֶֽשְׁלָֽחֲךָ אֶל־פַּרְעה
So now come, and I will send you to Pharaoh.


וַיּאמֶר כִּי־אֶֽהְיֶה עִמָּךְ
 And He said, “For I will be with you.”


Reflect for a moment on the paradoxical implications of this nondescript phrase. The Creator of worlds, the Master of the Universe, the Infinite, appoints flesh and blood, temporal man, who is “today alive but tomorrow in the grave” (Berachos 28b) as His agent, shaliach. How can weak, finite man possibly act as the agent of the Infinite Creator of worlds? Although there is no sound resolution to this question, the imperative for man to accept the assignment remains.

When one acts as an agent on behalf of another, a well-known Talmudic dictum applies: “an agent is likened to the sender” (Mishnah Berachos 5:5). Since man, the agent, was created in His image – and thereby likened to the sender – he is compelled to accept the assignment despite his feeble capabilities and temporal nature.

Just like Moses, all of us have been appointed as God’s agents, sent to fulfill His assignments. Every Jew was sent to earth as an agent of the Creator. When a Jew sins, he violates not only the will of God but also the terms of his assignment. In Halachah, a person’s role as agent disappears the moment the sender wishes to terminate the agent’s status. A person exists on earth only as long as he pursues his mission.

To better direct our individual talents and strengths towards carrying out our assignments, we were predestined to live in a specific time and place. If God appoints an agent, the agent must have been endowed with the ability to act in this capacity. The time, place, and circumstances in which each individual appears on earth were designated to allow him the best conditions to fulfill his assignment. (Derashot Harav, pp. 47-50)


Here we encounter the paradoxical idea of a sender who appoints an agent, yet also accompanies him on his mission.  God in effect said: “Moses, you are making a mistake. This is not a conventional assignment. I will not leave you alone to carry out the shelichus. I will not retreat into transcendence while you are left on your own, with the entire burden of freeing the nation resting on your shoulders. In this assignment, I the Sender will not leave your side, not even for a moment. And this is the sign for you that it was I Who sent you. When you take the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain  (Ex. 3:12).The full realization that I have accompanied will strike you, Moses, when much later, at Mount Sinai, the Jews will proclaim: ‘We will do and we will listen’ (Exodus 24:7). You will wonder how a people can change so completely, how a nation of lowly slaves can transform into a ‘kingdom of priests and a holy nation’ (Exodus 19:6). No human leader can accomplish such a metamorphosis; it can only be accomplished through My active participation. Therefore, Moses, you cannot argue that the assignment is too difficult for you. If the Sender accompanies you, then even you, ‘the heavy of mouth,’ the stutterer, can lead this people. On the other hand, were I not to accompany you, even Aaron, to whom I gave the gift of oratory, would not be up to the task:  ‘And I will be with your mouth and with his mouth…’ (Exodus 4:15). Without My continuing, guiding Presence, neither of you could accomplish what is required. No mission is too difficult to accept because I will be with you.” (Derashot Harav, pp. 55-56)

About Arnold Lustiger

Dr. Arnold Lustiger is a research scientist and has edited multiple volumes of the Rav's Torah, including the recently published Chumash Mesoras HaRav.

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