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Home » Economy, Passover

Passover : Moses – The Executive

Submitted by on April 19, 2005 – 5:08 amNo Comment | 4,861 views

The Achilles Heel

Friends of mine, who are blessed with a wonderful marriage, have recently confessed that money is the  Achilles heel of their relationship. From the very beginning, he has always wanted to save and she has always wanted to spend. (They thought they were alone, huh?)

It all boils down to a he says/she says situation. He says that she spends every dime she gets, she says that he saves every penny he can, so they recently went to a financial planner to settle the matter. They laid the question bluntly before him, “Is it better to spend or to be thrifty?” His reply was, “Both.”

Two Approaches

Managing to keep a straight face at their look of dismay, he launched into a detailed explanation. Every large successful company, he said, employs an Executive Board and a Department of Operations. The Executive formulates the overall mission, develops strategy and identifies long-term goals. Operations is responsible for implementing  strategy while ensuring daily efficiency and maximum revenue.

There is often tension between the two departments. The executive is paid to view the company through the lens of its potential. Operational officers are paid to view the company from the perspective of its current capacity. The executive sees the company the way it ought to be. Operational officers see the company the way it actually  is.

Working Together

Both have a valid approach, but because of their bias each must be prepared to listen to the other. It is possible for the executive to formulate a strategy that is completely beyond the company’s true capacity. In this case, operations must caution the executive to lower expectations and synchronize strategy with reality.

It is also possible for operations to become so involved in the minutia of implementation  that they fail to see beyond the company’s current capacity. In this case, the executive must help operations broaden their horizons and adjust accordingly.

For a company to succeed, each department must learn to appreciate the importance of the other. Goals cannot be met unless the company is fiscally healthy, yet fiscal health cannot be maintained in the long term without a successful strategy. Each department must consider both angles.

Bringing it Home

This, concluded the financial planner, is the difference between your two approaches. the executive - innerstreamViewing each dollar through its investment potential is important to overall strategy and long-term financial viability. Viewing each dollar through its current purchasing capacity is vital for the household’s department of operations.

The key is to appreciate the value of both approaches and to communicate effectively.

Moses and Aaron

As I listened to my friends tell their story, something clicked in my mind and for the first time I understood something that had bothered me for many years. I had always wondered why G-d insisted that Moses and Aaron jointly lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. Could Moses not have accomplished it on his own? (1)

When Moses first encountered G-d at the burning bush, G-d asked him to lead the Jewish people out of exile and made no mention of Aaron’s name. It was only later, when Moses repeatedly avoided the task, that G-d appointed Aaron spokesperson for Moses. (2) If Aaron was only a spokesperson, why is he accorded equal credit with Moses for the redemption? Could Moses not have done it alone?

Apparently not. (3)

Potential and Reality

The Jewish people were undeserving of salvation at the time of their exodus. They were an idolatrous people, sunk to the lowest levels of impurity and depravity. Moses, man of G-d, saw their innate capacity. He peered at them through the lens of their potential.

He looked at them and saw a people who would stand at Sinai and accept the Ten Commandments. He saw a people who would willingly embrace the discipline of Torah. He saw a people who had the potential to rise to the highest levels of ethical achievement.  He saw the Jewish people through G-d’s eyes and positioned them on a trajectory that would help them realize this potential.

Wonderful as his view was, it had its draw backs. When Moses encountered the nation’s current reality he saw petty impulses and depraved bickering, he saw material cravings and empty temptation, and  he didn’t know how to respond. He couldn’t relate to the base needs and desires of the human being.

In Moses’ world, commitment to Torah and desire for G-d came naturally. Prompting was unnecessary and transgression unheard of. Moses knew that this was well within the potential of his people but he realized that he couldn’t actualize this potential alone.

This is where Aaron came in. Aaron was a populist. He could relate to the people. He could understand their nature and characters.

Working Together

G-d partnered him with Moses so that he would assimilate Moses’ high level of teaching and expectation and disseminate it to the people on an appropriate level. Aaron was  Chief Officer of Operations, Moses was Chief Executive Officer. Moses would lay out the vision and strategy, Aaron was responsible for implementation. (4)

For his part, Aaron knew what might be immediately expected from the people and what required a little more patience. Aaron knew where to demand and where to suggest, where to insist and where to cajole.

Mosses set a furious pace, Aaron made certain the people could handle it. Moses was responsible for leading the nation on its journey to greatness. Aaron was responsible for ensuring a loving and gradual pace so that the people remained committed to that journey.

Moses and Aaron Within

We are each endowed with a personal Moses and Aaron who sit inside our minds and hearts and direct our focus and attention. Our Moses drives us constantly forward while our Aaron cautions us to slow down. The Moses within us reminds us of all the Mitzvahs we have yet to accomplish and urges us to strengthen our commitment. The Aaron within us reminds us to set a steady pace and be wary of outpacing ourselves.

In this interplay, we must first and foremost be honest to ourselves. There are times when our little Aaron raises legitimate concerns and it is appropriate to set a more gradual pace  but there are also times when our little Moses is correct. At such times we must put our concerns aside and strike out after his aggressive and courageous lead. (5)


  1. Exodus 6, 13 and 24
  2. Exodus chapter 3 and 4
  3. This concept is adapted from an address given by the Lubavitcher Rebbe in 1988. (R. Menachem M Schneerson Rebbe of Lubavitch 1902-1994)
  4. This is in accordance with the teachings of the Zohar, “Moshe Accompanies the King. Aaron accompanies the Bride.” Zohar Vol.1 ch. 266b. See also Likutei Torah Bamidbar 2b (R. Schneeur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chassidus Chabad, 1745 – 1813) and likutei Sichos vol 17 p113. (R. Menachem M Schneerson Rebbe of Lubavitch 1902-1994)
  5. This is also why we begin the Passover holiday with eating Matzah and lead from there to counting the Omer. Our sages spoke of an association between grain and wisdom, “A child does not know to call his father till he eats his first piece of grain.” Matzah is called the poor man’s bread. When eating Matzah, we reflect humbly on the poor state of our personal wisdom and acknowledge our need for our teachers’ guidance. In this sense the teacher is Moses and the guidance he offers is the inspiration to improve our spiritual selves. The night of eating Matzah is followed by the forty-nine day count of the Omer which is symbolic of Aaron’s gradual path of self improvement. For more detail, see Torah Ohr p. 114b (R. Schneeur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chassidus Chabad, 1745 – 1813)