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  • Writer's pictureNortheast Kollel

Beshalach: The Greatness is in the Humility

By Rabbi Yonah Burr

ויקח משה את עצמות יוסף עמו כי השבע השביע את בני ישראל לאמר פקד יפקד אלקים אתכם והעליתם את עצמתי מזה אתכם

Moshe took the bones of Yosef with him, for he firmly adjured the Children of Israel, saying, ‘Hashem will surely remember you, and you shall bring up my bones from here with you.'

Our Sages praise Moshe for taking responsibility for the bones of Yosef. While everyone else was busy gathering the gold and silver of Egypt, Moshe busied himself with fulfilling the oath to Yosef that Bnai Yisroel would take his remains with them.

The Sages point out an additional twist for Moshe himself. Because Moshe ensured a proper funeral for Yosef, Hashem Himself took responsibility for Moshe’s funeral -- measure for measure.


Asks Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l: If the Torah wants to highlight the nobility of Moshe’s actions, why does it mention that Yosef imposed an oath? The fact that there was an oath projects Moshe's effort as something he had to do and would seem to lessen the nobility of his actions.

Rav Moshe explains that, in truth, Yosef had no valid reason to be concerned that the people would neglecting his remains. Everyone owed him a big debt of gratitude for sustaining them during the famine and providing for them in Egypt. Arguably, if it had not been for Yosef, the Jewish People may never have survived the Egyptian exile.

So, why did Yosef impose an oath? Why did he feel it was needed?


Yosef did not see himself as someone special. He understood that he was in a position to sustain his people, so he did. He was doing what he needed to do. "Like anyone else would have done", he might have said -- a true, humble hero.

That Yosef felt he needed an oath was, actually, a testament to his own humility and greatness. And that was precisely why Moshe took it upon himself. Moshe wanted to be involved with such a great person and learn from his ways. And-- because Moshe jumped at the opportunity to serve such a great person, he merited that Hashem helped him.


We can learn an important lesson from this. The Torah does not emphasize all of Yosef's great accomplishments. But the Torah does highlight how humble he was, despite his greatness. And his greatness was precisely his attitude of "just doing my job", never acknowledging that he was, indeed, doing great things -- and spectacularly so.

May we merit many opportunities to do great things without even realizing it!

Have a wonderful Shabbos!

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