Pain And Passion


Moses was born into trouble, placed in a basket to save his life. Pharaoh’s daughter “beholds” the child crying; noting that she saw and did not hear him crying the Rabbis conclude that the baby cried silently. Moses learned early what it was to fight, to have to hide, to be scarred by the world.

In “Ah, But Your Land is Beautiful,” South African writer Alan Paton tells of a man who died and came before God. “Where are your wounds?” asks God. “I have none,” said the man. “Why?” responds God, “was there nothing worth fighting for?”

Early on Moses realizes how much there is to fight for — for God’s word, for the people, for freedom, for the passion he bears to lead Israel from Egypt. The Torah takes care to let us know that this prophet was afflicted from his first moments, but instead of making him narrow, his pain gave him purpose and a thirst for what was good. “In love’s service,” wrote Thornton Wilder, “only the wounded soldier may serve.” Moses was a wounded soldier for God’s service, and all of history changed. 

Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Follow his teachings at

About the Author
Named the most influential Rabbi in America by Newsweek Magazine and one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world by the Jerusalem Post, David Wolpe is the Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, California.