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What's with the donkey?

Friday, 28 December, 2018 - 12:20 pm


From some people we learn from their example how to live a good and accomplished life.

From others we learn how not to live and which choices to avoid.

In the entire Torah Moses is consistently considered an exemplar of the former, however a few episodes deliberately included in the Torah (the Divine guidebook for life) highlight the latter.

Everyone knows that Moses was chosen by G-d to redeem the Jewish people. And we all know how that story ends - right? Moses confronts Pharaoh, brings 10 plagues to subdue the Egyptians and everyone lives happily ever after.

What's missing is the fact that Moses actually tried to get out of it. That’s right, for an entire week everything was put on hold; waiting to see if Moses would submit to G-d’s request or not.

And then, when Moses finally accepts G-d’s mission, there is something amazing embedded in the narrative for us to discover.

The Donkey. That’s the one Moses used to transport his family to Egypt. Not just any random donkey - The “known” Donkey.

The commentaries point out that this donkey already had a history. It was the same donkey that had been used by Abraham to transport his equipment to the fateful “Binding of Isaac”.

In that instance, however, Abraham had demonstrated his deep commitment to G-d. He had not wavered for a second. Not only that, he rushed to fulfill G-d’s command.

This message is being conveyed to Moses, all these years later. Abraham had followed G-d’s instruction unhesitatingly. You, Moses, should be doing the same.

Sounds great, right? Highlight a textual anomaly, provide a nice answer and we have a wonderful message.

But it’s not that simple.

You see, when we look to see why Moses was delaying, it’s not as simple anymore. For an entire week Moses was simply requesting that G-d find someone better qualified for the job. Moses felt that he was under-qualified. Only after an entire week of persistence did G-d convince Moses to go ahead and agree to the mission.

G-d is aware of Moses’ strengths and capabilities. But it took Moses himself a week to come to terms with his own strengths and abilities.

All too often we experience the same thing in our personal lives. We know what must be done - and we can do it - but we don’t pull through. We think someone else is more capable or better equipped to accomplish the task.

Time goes by, and nothing is accomplished.

While it is important to recognize and acknowledge one’s weaknesses, it is vitally important to recognize one’s strengths too. Often we know that we are being called on to accomplish something greater, yet we second guess ourselves and our abilities.

And so, life goes on; same old, same old.

A vital message from this week’s Torah narrative is the importance to push aside our self doubt and jump right in to what we know needs to be done.



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