Learning from Example – Rabbi Aryeh Brueckheimer
The Torah ascribes the near death experience that occurred to Moshe on his way back to Mitzrayim to his delay in performing his son’s bris milah. Rav Hirsch (4:24) explains why Hashem felt Moshe deserved to die for this oversight.
Rav Hirsch explains that the success of Moshe mission of taking Bnei Yisroel out of Mitzrayim was dependent on Bnei Yisroel’s fulfillment of the mitzvah of bris milah. For the leader of the mission to be lax in his observance of this mitzvah would be counterintuitive. It was for this reason that Hashem felt it would be better for Moshe to die prior to his reaching Mitzrayim rather than be a bad role model.
We see from here how worthless anyone is as a role model if their behavior does not match with whatever lesson or idea they are trying to convey to others. A Rav once spent a Shabbos at the home of a wealthy individual. After Shabbos the man asked the Rav for advice. He said he always talks to his children about the importance of Torah and mitzvos but as they grow up they are only interested in money. The Rav replied that based on what he saw over Shabbos he can explain for this phenomenon. When one of the host’s children was purposely playing with the lights, the host’s response was that the boy is only a child. When the same child accidentally broke something of value while playing, he was punished severely. The Rav explained, one can talk and talk about the importance of Torah and mitzvos, but from your actions your children see what it is that you truly value.
Chazal say, “gadolah shimusha shel Torah yoser m’limuda” (Brachos 7b) one gains more from observing and interacting with great people than from what one learns from their teachings. This needs to stay in the forefront of our minds as parents and role models.
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