Our sages tell us that the rod Moses used to bring the plagues upon the Egyptians was carved with the names of the six mothers of our people (Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Leah, Bilhah and Zilpah), the twelve tribes, the ten plagues, and the great name of G‑d.

Certainly, the noble and lofty ideas and ideals represented by the matriarchs and the tribes of Israel are “worthy companions” for G‑d’s name on Moses’ rod. But the lowly tasks of bringing frogs, lice and boils upon the Egyptians seem an incongruous “match” with the Almighty’s ineffable name—

—Until we call to mind the principle of G‑d’s particular providence and watchfulness over every detail of the universe. G‑d is concerned not only with lofty generalities, with the world as a whole or an entire species as a whole, but also with “lowly matters” (such as punishing the Egyptians) and with the smallest details.

Some individuals feel that their purpose in life is to revolutionize the world, to revamp society. It is not worthwhile to devote their superior talents to correcting “small matters.”

In particular, there are some rabbinical leaders who declare that their attention is devoted exclusively to matters of great import. In Torah study, they explore only the most esoteric and abstruse discussions. In the area of service of G‑d, they ponder profound axioms of philosophy encompassing the entire Torah. In the field of communal affairs, they attempt to show how all of humanity’s ills could be remedied by application of the principles of justice. In the arena of worldly affairs, their sermons eloquently explain the need for global democracy; they comment on nuclear warfare, and stress the need for summit meetings of the world’s leaders.

The “simple” matters of Shabbat laws and Shabbat observance, keeping kosher, the laws of marital life or the details of blessings to be made over food do not befit their exalted status. Such “lowly tasks” are best left to the gabbai, the synagogue warden, or at best to the assistant rabbi, for the duty of a great rabbi is to address himself exclusively to matters of global nature, to attract attention with startling new statements and to make front-page news.

Let these rabbis content themselves with emulating their Creator! If the Almighty interests Himself and watches over even the smallest detail of the universe; if bringing lice and hail upon the Egyptians is not too “lowly” a task to be associated with G‑d’s great name—then he too should give attention to the smallest detail. It is precisely in the “simple tasks,” teaching the Torah laws pertaining to day-to-day living, that G‑d’s kingly presence finds expression.1