your little Moses

Thursday, 18 August, 2022 - 1:57 pm

Reb Zusha of Anipoli was one of the early Chassidic masters. Humble and self-effacing, he is forever remembered in the many tales of his awe of G‑d and his deep love for His creations.

There is a famous anecdote that tells of Reb Zusha quaking with fright on his deathbed. “I am not afraid of being asked why I was not Moses,” he explained to his students. “After all, G‑d already has a Moses. I am afraid, however, of being asked; Zusha, why weren’t you Zusha?”

In this week's Torah portion Moses tells us “And now, Israel, what does the L‑rd your G‑d request of you? Only to be in awe of Him, and to follow His ways...” Deuteronomy 10:12.

The Talmud (Berachot 33b) famously asks “Is awe of G‑d a small thing?” What does Moses mean when he says, “What does G‑d ask of you (already)?” How can he minimize the matter of being a G‑d-fearing Jew?

And the Talmud answers, “Yes. For Moses, to be in awe of G‑d is a small matter.” For Moses, to be in awe of G‑d is a very modest accomplishment. However, Moses was talking to the Jewish nation. For most, being G‑d-fearing is not a simple matter at all. It is extremely challenging.

The first Chabad Rebbe explains that in every Jewish soul there exists a spark of Moses. When we look at our essence, we see that we are infused with G‑dliness just like Moses. When we scrape the surface of our inner self, then we will find a lot of spirituality and connectedness within us. And it is there for the taking. So yes, when we tap into our inner Moses, to be G‑d-fearing is a small matter.

At the end of the day, we will all be judged fairly and fittingly, according to our own strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures. As Zushe said "G‑d already has a Moses.” We will all be evaluated by our own personal talents, faculties, gifts, and potential—developed or dormant.

Simultaneously, we have a lot more potential than we can imagine. We can be G‑d-fearing individuals and so much more. We can come to love and appreciate the truths of Judaism and its traditions. We can enjoy a meaningful and spiritual relationship with G‑d, as well as an amazing life experience.

Because inside each of us is a little Moses.

Have a Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

P.S. I once heard a Chassidic teaching.

The Talmud tells us "Everything is in the hands of Heaven, except for awe of Heaven" (Berachot 33a). Which is usually explained that "the only thing in the world that we control is our basic spiritual orientation towards the world". I heard (in line with this that everyone has a Moses in them) that the Reb Shmuel of Lubavitch, the Rebbe Maharash, explained "Everything is in the hands of Heaven" refers to if you are rich or poor, smart, or not, talented at art or at science. "Except for awe of Heaven" means G-d must give everyone awe of heaven regardless.

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