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The Day Moses Became Jealous

“One-Hundred Deaths, Rather Than One Pang of Jealousy,” Moses Declared. The Root and Essence of all Envy.

53 min

Class Summary:

Moses’ end was drawing near. G-d had commanded him that he was to pass on the mantle of leadership to his devoted disciple Joshua, the man who ‘never left Moses’ tent.’ The Midrash tells us that it is at this historic moment that Moses turns to G-d with a surprising request.

‘I know that I am not destined to lead the nation into Israel. But let me enter not as a leader but as a follower! Let Joshua take my place, but let me live!’ G-d, the Midrash continues, granted Moses’ request.

What happens next is astonishing: The Midrash tells us that Moses became jealous of Joshua. He could not bear being deprived of the Divine revelation that was now exclusively his student's! Moses tells G-d: ‘I prefer one hundred deaths over one pang of jealousy!’ G-d again grants his request, and Moses passes away.

We have to understand: What does it mean that ‘Moses became jealous’? Moses was the one who had declared, ‘If only all the people would become prophets!’ And of his dearest student Joshua? The Talmud tells us that one can be jealous of anyone except his own son or his own student!? We find that Elijah happily granted his student Elisha double his prophetic spirit? And from all people Moses, ‘the most humble human being on earth!’

This class will explore the spiritual and psychological roots of jealousy and its results, and show the deeper perspective on just what it was that Moses was refusing. We will understand the real difference between the leadership of Moses and the leadership of Joshua, and how this was reflected in their personalities and in their generations.


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  • TA

    To Aris.....Shmuli -12 years ago


    You answered your own question. The ditch in the story is the void and vacuum that his jealousy created in his heart. The way to overcome this, he needed to rise above his ditch and stand tall means to challenge himself to reach greater heights in himself. Another dimension of this would insinuate that standing on a chair versus lowering someone else into a ditch would mean that :better look at yourself more thoroughly to reach greater heights and rise above and beyond your limits, than to feel good about yourself by focusing on putting someone else down..... Just thinking out loud.

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    • A

      ari -12 years ago

      Re: Your Question
      You are saying that it is not about being taller then the other person the Rebbe wished to convey... rather

      soley  for ones own personal growth and maturaty. Ok i hear that, thanks for the insight

      Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • A

    ari -12 years ago

    Ques. For Rav YYJ last story needs some elaboration
    Great shiur thank you!

    I have a trouble however understanding the moral theme of the last story told. Is his standing on a chair really a solution to his inner jelousy? Why do we need to even feel  "higher" then others, even if it  means "standing on a chair"? The approach of acceptence- to know that we dont  have to be the tallest, and self awareness- to be happy with the dispositions G-d implanted in us and to work on them  them accodingly seems more appropiate?

    An answer like- being tall is not whats importance, trying our best according to our own abilitys  is what makes us tall-- seems to make more sense to me?

    perhaps i am missing something

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  • MF

    miriam fishman -13 years ago

    regarding the essay of 11/24, on Vayashev which was outstanding for its breadth and scope and depth of meaning,
    the opening joke was not.

    It behooves Rabbi Jacobson to choose jokes that do not denigrate aspects of Judaism that we hold holy, e.g., marriage and how women are regarded. We do not want to stoop to the levels of the society around us, even in the name of "humor." oh, no.

    I enjoy the emails very, very much and often share them. thank you.

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  • J

    Janet -13 years ago

    The joke prefacing the story
    Rather than repeating an admittedly horrible, denigrating-to-women joke, why not "just say no", as your wonderful story about Joseph emulates? Perpetuating such "jokes" gives validation and acceptance to the misogyny that continues to exist withing Judaism and the world at large.

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  • A

    Anonymous -13 years ago

    Thank you!
    I am chased by thoughts of giving up and hopelessness. Thank you for this teaching!

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

Vayalech Class

Rabbi YY Jacobson

  • September 13, 2011
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  • 14 Elul 5771
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Dedicated by Reb Yitzchak and Rochel Shlomo in the loving memory of Avraham ben Yitzchak and in the merit of Esther bas Rivkah.
 Dedicated by David and Eda Schottenstein in the loving memory of Alta Shula Swerdlov and the merit of Yetta Alta Shula, "Aliya", Schottenstein

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