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Moshe 2: Transformation

“He (God) buried him (Moshe) in the depression in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-Peor.” (Deuteronomy 34:6) Rabbi Berechia said: “The Torah provides guidepost after guidepost describing the location of Moshe’s burial, but nevertheless, the verse concludes, ‘And no one knows his burial place until this day.’” Rome already sent emissaries to the local military governor of the Beth-Peor region with the following order: “Show us where Moshe is buried.” The officer took them to the general area. However, when they stood atop an elevation it seemed to them that they saw a gravesite below. And when they stood below it seemed to them that they saw the same gravesite above. They split into two groups, one heading toward each site. Those standing above saw the gravesite below them. Those standing below saw the gravesite above them. (Sotah 13b-14a)


We can read of Moshe’s birth, of his milk nurse and his weaning. Moshe was born a regular person. In fact, early in Exodus he is called an Ish Mitzri – an Egyptian man, however, at the end of his life he is called Ish HaElokim – a man of the Lord. The man who, very early on, describes himself as “lo ish Devarim Anochi”, – “I am not a man of words”, – composes Deuteronomy – The Book of Words; Devarim.

The story of Moshe teaches us that we do not believe that the greatest leaders are “special” even before they begin their lives. They become leaders because of their power to transform themselves.

The 7th of Adar is both Moshe’s birthday and his Yahrtzeit. Yet, we mark the day for the latter, not his birth. We celebrate what he had achieved by the time of his death. Moshe challenges us to realize that no matter how, where, or, to whom, we are born; we must see life as a constant opportunity for self-transformation. (Machberes Avodas Hashem)

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