Who was Moses? Why, indeed did G‑d choose this unknown Israelite refugee from Midian to lead His people out of Egypt and be the conduit for the transmission of G‑d's wisdom to this world? Many answers have been given based on anecdotes recounted in various midrashic sources regarding Moses' accomplishments in his pre-leadership years. We, however, will attempt to cull an answer from the information provided in the Bible itself.

After the Torah describes Moses' birth and rescue from the Nile (incidents wherein he didn't actively or knowingly participate), we are told only three episodes about Moses—all very telling; all sharing the same theme: 1) Moses slays an Egyptian who is beating an Israelite. 2) Moses attempts to prevent the escalation of a skirmish between two Israelites. 3) Moses physically intervenes upon witnessing the unjust harassment of Jethro's daughters by the local shepherds.

Does Moses sound a bit like the role of the main character in countless movies and novels?Here's a person who isn't afraid to stand up for what is right. He won't just "mind his own business" when confronted by blatant injustice. And he doesn't just express his opinion to anyone interested, he takes corrective action—even if these actions are unpopular and may incur others' wrathful vengeance.

Does this sound a little like the role of the main character in countless movies and novels? Well here's where Moses' story becomes unique: when G‑d approaches Moses, asking him to lead the Israelite nation out of Egypt, Moses refuses. Moses humbly but unsuccessfully pleads with G‑d to send another person as messenger—Aaron, the Messiah, or ANYONE… This seems to be an extremely counter-intuitive response. Considering Moses' background, we would expect him to gleefully jump at the opportunity to be the hero sent on a mission to save an oppressed nation from the hands of an evil tyrant.

But Moses was also the most humble man to ever live. There wasn't a shred of ego in all his heroic exploits and he had no desire for fame or glory. True, when there was an injustice which required immediate attention he was the first person to jump into the fray; but in this instance Moses felt that others were equally qualified for the task, and he therefore had no interest in the mission.

And this is precisely why he was chosen. One whose feats are motivated by ego is not a true leader. His preoccupation with writing his own chapter in the annals of history will cloud his priorities and won't allow him to give the proper attention and respect to his charges. The genuine leader possesses a rare mix of fearlessness and humility.