The Virtue of Humility: The Nature of Moses and Jeremiah


As mentioned in the post of “Parashat Shemot” {פרשת שמות} (the first weekly Torah portion of the Book of Exodus) has in fact two “Haftarot” {הפטרות} (weekly prophets/scriptures). Yesterday we discussed the one from Isaiah and today we will discuss the “Haftarah” portion from Jeremiah and its connection to the “parashah” from the Torah.

In the “parashah” we get to know Moses – the glorious leader of the people of Israel – for the very first time! But what a surprise for us to find out that he was genuinely not a “natural leader”:

“Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you”…But Moses said to the LORD, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” (Exodus 4: 2,10)

Then God replied:”…”Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”(Exodus 4:11-13).

Interestingly an almost identical dialogue can be found once more in the opening chapter of the Book of Jeremiah, which is the “Haftarah” portion, when God tells Jeremiah he has been chosen to deliver the words of God to the people:

“Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying,”Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD.” Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.”( Jeremiah 1:4-10)