As I watched, I found myself paying close attention to Moshe's journey, from Prince of Egypt to Leader of the Israelites. I admired him for standing up to Pharoah, channeling the power of G-d, and ultimately leading his people to freedom.
But it made me wonder how could ONE person be so strong, so resilient, and have so much faith to pull off this incredible feat of bravery by himself?
Since we can count on Hollywood to take certain liberties for the sake of storytelling, I wondered what the original Exodus text says about Moshe's journey. Here’s what I found out:
As G-d commands Moshe to return to Egypt to free his people, Moshe is perplexed, and says to g-d:
“'Oh Lord, I am not a man of words...I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.”
It’s generally accepted that this passage indicates that Moshe not only has a fear of speaking but also suffers from what we can assume is some sort of speech impediment.
So, how does a stuttering man lead an entire people into freedom against a tyrannical ruler? He asks for help. Moshe's brother, Aaron, stepped in, serving as his translator and mediator in the fight against Pharoah.
Arguably the most famous character in the Jewish canon - hailed for his strength, wisdom, and bravery - did not do it alone. Moshe expressed his need for help, he was met with it, and the result was the liberation of his people.
One thing is for certain: He was lifted up not only by G-d, not only by his own strength, but with the support of people around him.
No person is an island. We live to help others and to be helped.
As our days become more monotonous, I know we are all struggling. We are bogged down by our surroundings, by the news, health issues, familial problems, and our financial burdens. So how do we humble ourselves to say “I need help?” no matter how “insignificant” we think our problems are?
Hear me out:
It is written in Jewish texts that it is a mitzvah (good deed) to provide help to those in need. There are millions of people out there just waiting for the chance to help someone, but you are the key component missing from the equation. In order for someone to help, they need to understand the need! In that regard, by asking for help, you are fulfilling a mitzvah.
According to Social Psychologist Heidi Grant, “Human beings are basically wired to want to give help.”
She says, “It’s one of the richest sources of self-esteem, and it has the potential to be a real win-win. Helping is rewarding for people because they like to be supportive and connect with other people.”
Therefore, it is deep in our human nature to extend a helping hand.
On the contrary, to admit we need help, to show the world that we don’t have the answer to everything is a deeply Jewish display of courage. We exist on this earth to build each other up and to create a better world than the one we entered. I believe the core of this is helping those around us, providing love and comfort and assistance to those who need it. I pray that, like Moshe, you have the courage to seek help, and also the compassion to help those who might not be able to ask.
I leave you with a small way of extending a helping hand: an excerpt from one of my favorite prayers Mi Shebeirach, the prayer for healing:
M'kor habrachah l'avoteinu
Bless those in need of healing with r'fuah sh'leimah,
The renewal of body, the renewal of spirit, And let us say, Amen