Mashiach and Jewish Leadership

Mashiach and Jewish Leadership: Part 12 – Moses and Mashiach: Selflessness and Compassion

The tradition, handed down by our Sages: "He is the first redeemer, he is the last redeemer" refers to Mashiach, the last redeemer, being the reappearance of the soul of Moses, the first redeemer. The intimate connection between inspiration and compassion is similar to the intrinsic connection between compassion and selflessness, the two qualities linking these great souls. Moses began his occupation as leader when his compassion was kindled upon seeing his fellow Jew being beaten by a cruel Egyptian. By saving the Jew and slaying the Egyptian, Moses, who at the time was a prince of Egypt, forever cast his lot with the Jewish People. Forty years later, as Moses mercifully searched for one sheep lost from his herd, G-d appeared to him at the burning bush with the directive to return to Egypt and assume the leadership of the Jewish People. From that point on, Moses became the great defender of Israel, pleading their cause before G-d, even after the grievous sins of the golden calf and the evil report of the spies sent to scout out the land of Israel.

Even greater though than Moses' compassion upon the people was his humbleness and sense of selflessness (bitul). The Torah itself attests to this: "And the man Moses was exceedingly humble, more than any man on the face of the earth." On two different occasions, in response to complaints by the people, Moses in self-depreciating reference to himself and his brother Aaron exclaimed, "…and what are we?" (In Kabbalah, the word "what," mah,refers to the sefirah (a channel of Divine energy or lifeforce) of chochmah, "wisdom," whose inner dimension is the state of selflessness. When the letters of chochmah are permuted they form the words koach mah, " the power of 'what' [selflessness.] The wisdom of Moses derived from his great humbleness and sense of being "nothing" in relation to G-d. He therefore became the perfect "empty" vessel through which G-d's will was manifest.

Although Mashiach will likewise possess a lofty sense of selflessness, his main attribute will be his compassion on the Jewish People and the entire world. Whereas Moses is most strongly associated with the sefirah of chochmahMashiach is most connected to the sefirah of tiferet, "beauty," whose inner dimension is compassion. He will reveal the inner brilliance of each person, creating a beautiful rainbow of unity between all peoples.

Beauty has the power to not only inspire, but to arouse compassion as well. The people of Israel are innately beautiful, as described in allegorical form throughout the Song of Songs. The poverty of spirit, a result of the long exile, tends to cover up this beauty until it is sometimes hidden beneath a superficial cover of external "ugliness." Through a deep inner vision of the intrinsic beauty of the Jewish People, compassion and inspiration are aroused, revealing that beauty once again.

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