But Moshe said to God
Who am I to go to Pharaoh?
And God said
I will be with you
I am becoming who I am becoming
it is time for you to do the same
everyone else walked right by
but you saw the miracle burning
Pick up your staff now
and make yourself ready
The journey ahead is long
and generations will comb their stories
to learn how you tied your shoes
and how to lead the people
with compassion and with vision
as you are about to do.
For the ALEPH musmachim, 15 Tevet / 11 January 2009
In this week's portion, Shemot, we read about Moshe at the bush which burned but was not consumed. God introduces God's-self to Moshe as Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh, a construction which means something like "I will be Who I will be" or "I am becoming who I am becoming." And then God gives Moshe instructions: go forth to Pharaoh, and free the Israelites from Mitzrayim, from the narrow place in which they are living.
This afternoon, ten of my dear friends and colleagues will receive smicha from ALEPH. (I wrote about the first ALEPH smicha ceremony I witnessed three years ago this month.) This week's Torah poem is a commentary on the portion; it is also meant as a benediction for them as they fully embrace their calling. Knowing them is a real gift for me, and I wish them endless blessings on their continuing journey.
Moshe's journey won't be easy. We've read this story before; we know what lies ahead, the ups and the downs. But in this week's portion, in this moment, let us pause to savor this most astonishing experience. Who knows how many others walked past the embodied miracle of that bush, never taking the time to notice the incursion of the miraculous into ordinary consciousness?
May we all be more like Moshe: humble, and alert, and ready to take up the work which so needs doing. Amen.