Ben-Tzion Spitz
Former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay

Excellent Self-Doubt (Shmot)

Moses confronts Pharaoh, by BSpitz
Moses confronts Pharaoh, by BSpitz

 Great doubts deep wisdom. Small doubts little wisdom. -Chinese Proverb

God appears to Moses at the Burning Bush and instructs him to confront Pharoah and get him to allow the enslaved Jewish people to travel to the desert to worship God. Moses is reluctant and declines the request, citing his unsuitability. After some back-and-forth, God is insistent but tells Moses that his brother Aaron will assist.

Moses and Aaron meet with Pharaoh, however, that first meeting is counterproductive. Not only does Pharaoh not permit his Jewish slaves the respite that is asked for, but he makes their servitude even more grueling. Moses, despondent, complains to God and says, “not only have You not helped, You’ve made matters worse!”

The Bat Ayin on Exodus 5:22 questions how Moses, the father of all prophets, could address God this way. How could Moses have the gall to accuse God of anything, let alone of making anything worse? He answers that if one reads the context of Moses’ seeming accusation, Moses states that “ever since I came to Pharaoh,” things have gotten worse. In essence, Moses is saying that it’s his fault. He’s saying that God couldn’t affect the miraculous liberation of the Jews because Moses was a faulty and unworthy messenger. Moses was filled with self-doubt.

The Bat Ayin explains that it was exactly Moses’ self-doubt that eventually made him an ideal messenger for God. God was not looking for a brash, confident, self-assured intermediary. He was looking for a quiet, humble, bashful messenger. He specifically wanted someone who didn’t think they were worthy. Moses’ outstanding self-debt is what made him the ideal candidate to speak for God.

Moses confronts Pharaoh, by BSpitz

Moses thought of himself as lowly and unworthy, and as a result, God bestowed the spirit of prophecy and knowledge of God upon Moses as with no other mortal before or after.

May we use our self-doubts as foundations of humility to ascend to greater knowledge of God.

Shabbat Shalom,



To the 146 new species of animals and plants that were added to our planet in 2022.

About the Author
Ben-Tzion Spitz is the former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay. He is the author of six books of Biblical Fiction and hundreds of articles and stories dealing with biblical themes. He is the publisher of Torah.Works, a website dedicated to the exploration of classic Jewish texts, as well as TweetYomi, which publishes daily Torah tweets on Parsha, Mishna, Daf, Rambam, Halacha, Tanya and Emuna. Ben-Tzion is a graduate of Yeshiva University and received his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University.
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