Motti Wilhelm

Moshe: My way is not the only way

The Author showing preschool students the end of the Torah during the COVID pandemic. (Courtesy)
The Author showing preschool students the end of the Torah during the COVID pandemic. (Courtesy)

Not many people prepare their own obituary for print.

Moshe did.

The Talmud shares that prior to his passing, the Torah’s concluding verses about Moshe’s passing, funeral, and obituary were dictated to him by God and penned with his tears.

In his final words, Moshe shares how Aaron’s passing had a more profound impact on the people than his own.

After Moshe’s death, it is written, “And the children of Israel wept for Moses.” The nation mourned for Moshe, yet not without exception. When Aaron passed away, the Torah specifies, “the entire house of Israel wept for Aaron,” leaving no dry eye among our people.

Moshe was the lawgiver; Aaron was the peacemaker. Moshe spoke the word of God before Pharaoh; Aaron translated the words to Pharaoh. Moshe brought the Torah down; Aaron lifted the people up.

Clearly it takes the integrity, humility and honesty of Moshe to be the Divine agent in bringing the Torah down. But an Aaron is needed to connect the people with the Torah. One modality is simply incomplete without the other.

In his own obituary, Moshe makes a point of sharing with us how there is, in fact, more than one modality needed for Jewish leadership. We each must live true to our way and our role, but we should also be cognizant that it is not the only way.

Moshe was the greatest Jewish leader to ever have lived, and part of his very gift is letting us know that there are alternative leadership models that, in some ways, are even more effective.

In a world marked by polarization and a country torn by division, Moshe’s parting message resonates deeply: “My way is remarkable, but other paths are essential as well.”


For a full reading on this subject read Deflecting the Spotlight

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About the Author
Rabbi Motti Wilhelm received his diploma of Talmudic Studies from the Rabbinical College of Australia & New Zealand in 2003 and was ordained as a rabbi by the Rabbinical College of America and Israel’s former chief Rabbi Mordecha Eliyahu in 2004. He was the editor of Kovetz Ohelei Torah, a respected Journal of Talmudic essays. He lectures on Talmudic Law, Medical Ethics and a wide array of Jewish subjects and has led services in the United States, Canada, Africa and Australia. His video blog Rabbi Motti's Minute is highly popular as are his weekly emails. Rabbi Wilhelm and his wife Mimi lead Chabad SW Portland as Shluchim of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
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