And G-d spoke to Moshe and Aaron and commanded them concerning the Children of Israel and concerning Pharaoh King of Egypt to bring Israel out of Egypt. These are the heads of their fathers’ houses… And Amram took Yocheved his aunt to him for a wife and she bore to him Aaron and Moses…These are Aaron and Moses, to whom G-d had said; “Bring out the Children of Israel from the land of Egypt according to their hosts. These are they that spoke to Pharaoh, King of Egypt, these are Moshe and Aaron…. (Shemos 6:13…27)
Right before Moses is to speak to Pharaoh, the Torah seemingly switches subjects and we are treated to a lesson in lineage. Since every word is crucial and holy, why is there such a deviation from the narrative to tell us about Moshe and Aaron’s family tree, and why specifically at that moment immediately prior to their negotiations with Pharaoh?
Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch, in his commentary on the Torah writes the following: “Right from the earliest times it occurred that men who have shown themselves quite strikingly to be benefactors to their people on account of their “godlike” deeds, have been invested after their passing away from this world, with a “godly” origin. We know well enough how in later times, a Jew whose genealogical table was not available, and because it was not available, and because he brought the world a few sparks of light borrowed from the man Moses, came to be considered by nations as begotten by God, and to doubt his divinity became a capital crime. Our Moses was a man, remained a man, and is to remain a man…”
For the very same reason the burial place of Moses remains forever obscure, as it states at the very end of the Torah, “And Moses, the servant of God, died there in the land of Moab…and no man knows his grave until this very day.” (Devarim 34:5-6) Moshe’s name is mentioned only once in the Haggadah on Pesach and even then he is referred to as a servant of HASHEM.
It’s not about Moshe. It was never about Moshe. The idea is not to be distracted by “who” but rather to remain forever with the”what”. The Torah’s message would otherwise be at risk of being eclipsed and distorted by a focus on the one “who” happened to be chosen to deliver the Torah. Since there is strong human tendency to deify the messenger, the Torah goes way out of its way, in anticipation of such a deviant movement, so we all dare not be fooled. DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.