Author's Note: The author acknowledges the theoretical peculiarity of this piece's content. It is, if you will, an idea in the process of becoming; however, it may explain why The King's Speech, aside from its brilliant actors, writers, director, screenplay and best ensemble cast, did so well at least in part.
Question 1: Who is the archetypal Jewish leader?
A. Sandy Koufax
B. Rabbi Stephen Wise
C. Moshe Ben Amram
D. Shabsai Tzvi
Question 2: About whom do we sing in Yigdal?
A. Shlomo Carlebach
B. The most recently alive Lubavitcher Rebbe
C. Miriam the prophetess
D. Moshe ben Amram
Lo kam b’Israel kay Moshe od, navi umabeet es temunaso-(“But none have seen like Moses in his time.”*)
One of the few things about which most if not all Jews agree-Moshe, the humblest of men, remains the one Jew-in remembrance of whom-we should strive to emulate.
The House of Israel refers to him not as “Moshe Rabi”-Moses, My Teacher but “Moshe Rabbeinu”-Moses Our Teacher.
Because G-d chose him before we did.
Here was a man who'd been drawn from the water, capable of both anger and righteous action, who killed an Egyptian taskmaster because the latter had beaten a Hebrew slave. Afraid he had unequivocally demonstrated his pro-Hebrew sympathies despite his having been raised in the household of Pharaoh, he fled in fear of his life.
The Chosen Moses
Being chosen for greatness must be a humbling experience for genuinely humble people. If asked to lead, their first reaction is to declare their unsuitability.
“I am not qualified" they're often heard to say.
Moshe differs profoundly from Korach in this regard. Unlike the latter whose unbridled ambition to challenge and unseat Moshe, a self-effacing man who didn't want the responsibility of leadership for which he claimed, he was not qualified.
It must be difficult, however, to refuse the offer when G-d Himself, has written the letter of recommendation.
In the dialogue at the scene of the burning bush, Moshe argues that his slowness of tongue will impair his credibility as a leader to which G-d responds that He will designate Aharon, Moses’ brother, to serve as the actual spokesperson before Pharaoh.
A thought: oratory vs. example …
In the epic tale of Mehlville’s Billy Budd, the Handsome Sailor, the author has created a character whom we can liken to the yetzer tov, a leader so naturally unaware of the adoration with which he is regarded by all members of the crew, save one, William “Billy” Budd would not recognize guile were it staring at him in the face. He has one fatal flaw.
Like Moshe Rabbeinu, Budd too is “slow of tongue”.
I have not read this anywhere else and perhaps is an idea without foundation, but I would like to suggest that Moshe and Budd are deprived of their speech for a good reason.
Neither can rely on oration to win followers over to his side nor does either actively seek out leadership opportunities. Budd is no more a mutineer than Moshe Rabbeinu the eager messenger of the G-d of Israel. Their strength lies-not in their words-but in the love their presence inspires.
As you might expect, given the presence of the yetzer tov in the person of young Budd, the lurking presence of the yetzer hara, in the character of Chief Petty Officer Claggart, who accuses Budd, in the privacy of Captain Starry Vere’s chambers, of organizing a mutiny aboard the HMS Bellipotent of which Vere is the commanding officer.
Claggart’s accusation is entirely false. Known by Captain Vere to be despised by the entire crew, including himself, Vere orders the captain of marines to fetch Budd to his chambers so that he can face his accuser.
As virgin as the freshly-fallen snow, Budd listens as Claggart repeats his lies, this time to Vere and Budd. The latter cannot speak as if G-d himself had closed his throat.
“Speak man! Defend yourself!" Captain Vere exhorted, but Budd could no more speak at that moment than a newly-born baby could have. Oh he tried, valiantly, but no words exited his mouth.
Claggart stood by Vere, both behind Budd as the lad, struggling to speak, turned away from Vere hiding his monumental embarrassment. The rascal Claggart stood to Budd’s right but behind; Vere on Budd’s left and behind.
And then it came. Budd’s only response of which he was capable at the moment; his right fist thrust back striking Claggart squarely on his forehead, felling him.
“My God man, what have you done?” cried the captain.
Claggart, a despicable liar and Budd’s lawful superior officer, was dead, at the hand of seaman Wiliam Budd.
Who better than G-d knows our natures?
As our creator, you might expect He would. We, however, cannot know His. It is not so much an inability as it is a reflection of humankind's limited theological imagination. The Thirteen Attributes are anthropomorphic descriptors of the kind of being G-d is. Should it surprise us then that so many folks limit their G-d conception to that of an idealized parent?