An Offer You Can Refuse by Josh Blachorsky


Everyone has heard the term “an offer you can’t refuse.” If Hashem was making that offer, it would no longer be an offer but rather it would be “an order you must obey.” Yet in this week’s Parashah, we find Moshe going to Har HaElokim, where he finds a burning bush telling him to take B’nei Yisrael out of Mitzrayim. Shockingly, Moshe refuses. One common explanation for Moshe’s refusal is that he was humble and did not want to take the job. This answer is very difficult, because if Hashem thought Moshe was right for the job, then he was right for the job and should not have had a choice. In addition, Rashi (Shemot 4:10) quotes a Midrash that says that the conversation between Moshe and Hashem lasted a week. Moshe was the most humble person ever, but after a week of Hashem telling him something, one would think that Moshe would get the picture, stop being humble, and take the job already! Humility is not a reason to disobey Hashem! Moshe must have had a much better reason than that.

Rav Baruch Leff suggests an answer in the name of Rav Yaakov Weinberg, the Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Israel in Baltimore,that Moshe and Hashem went back and forth over this command. The pasuk states, “Vayichar Af Hashem BeMoshe,” “Hashem became angry with Moshe (Shemot 4:14).” After that, Moshe is directly commanded to go on his mission and after being directly commanded, Moshe could not refuse. Every one of Hashem’s offers before He became angry was just a strong recommendation but afterwards there was no saying no. This answer fits perfectly with Moshe’s humility. Moshe was humble when leadership was recommended, but when Hashem wanted it done and commanded Moshe to take B’nei Yisrael out of Mitzrayim, he listened.

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