by Rabbi Dr Raymond Apple
Whatever Moses did, the Egyptian magicians were able to counter it (Ex. 7:11). In today’s world, Moses wouldn’t have stood a chance.
The magicians were masters of show, while Moses was a mere stutterer. On television Moses wouldn’t have lasted a moment. He hadn’t an ounce of charisma.
From the perspective of history, however, judged by the criteria of a pre-television age, Moses had the more substance, and that’s why the Torah says (Ex. 14:31) that the people “believed in God and in Moses His servant” (possibly the words mean, “and that Moses was His servant”).
The lesson we learn is that no-one, not even a rabbi, especially not a rabbi, should be judged by spell-binding oratory or flamboyant theatricality. Some people are masters of magic, capable of manipulating minds and hearts, either for the wrong purpose or for no purpose at all other than the pleasure that they get out of wielding their magic.
Not that putting on a show is necessarily always bad, but the rational person should always ask,
“What’s behind the theatrics?” The rational person should never be swayed by the drama. It’s harder to ask the hard questions, but without them no decision will ever have real validity.
The pasuk tells us that Moshe led Yisro's flock of sheep in the Midbar. Chazal tell us that in the zechus of his outstanding service of leading the sheep of a mere mortal with perfection and compassion he was zocheh to lead Hashem's "Tzon Kodshim", Hashem's Holy Sheep, for 40 years in the Midbar.
The Ben Ish Chai in his sefer Ben Yoho'ada on Chumash says that the reason why the Bnei Yisroel are called "Tzon" is to remind us that we must serve Hashem with the four traits laid out by Yehuda Ben Teima in Pirkei Avos (5:20). Az KaNamer, audacious like a Leopard; Kal KaNesher, light like an eagle; Ruzt KaTzvi, run like a deer; Gibor Ka'Ari strong like a lion. The Roshie Teivos of these for animal Tzadi for Tzvi, Aleph for Ari, Nun for Nesher and Namer make up the word "Tzon". Hashem's flock must use all four of these character traits for avodas Hashem. If we do so then we are zocheh to be called "Tzon Kodshim" and be led by a merciful shepherd.