Nelly Shulman
Nelly Shulman

A Pep Talk

I would hate to be Moses.

After the tumultuous life journey, he is slapped with an ultimate disappointment. Imagine trying to reach something for forty years, witnessing plenty of horrors, losing family members, and almost getting killed in the process.

Finally, you are on the threshold of mastering your goal, but then you are slapped with the news that you will never be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor because you are going to die before the ultimate success. Honestly, there would be a big temptation to quit the whole thing on the spot.

Not so Moses. Having been hit with the news, experiencing bitterness and depression, he knows his duty before the Jewish people. Even if he would forget, God is there to remind him, “Give Joshua his instructions, and imbue him with strength and courage…” (Dvarim, 3:28).

It is easy to give up, clear your desk, close the door and let your successor deal with all the unsolved issues. There is a beautiful and very modern-sounding commentary on this verse in Siftei Chakhamim, “With your words so that he will not become faint-hearted, etc. I.e., not with your actions, for you are not able to encourage him and embolden him except with words.”

In other words, never skip this pep talk when you call it the quits.

About the Author
Nelly Shulman is a journalist and writer currently based in Berlin. She is an author of four popular historical novels in the Russian language. She is working on the fifth novel in this series and on her first English-language novel, a historical thriller set during the Siege of Leningrad. She a Hawthornden Fellow and an alumna of the Nachum Goldmann Fellowship.
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