The story of Egypt begins by setting the scene of a nation oppressed and enslaved. The story then tells Moshe’s backstory, but with terse details.
He interceded when an Egyptian enforcer bullied a Jew, killing him. He interceded when two Jews were fighting each other. He interceded when some local shepherds bullied Yisro’s daughters. The Midrash says that the burning bush event happened when he followed a thirsty lost lamb. These cryptic inclusions are instructive about why he was selected. The common denominator between the stories subtly conveys the qualities a good leader possesses.
The Meshech Chochma notes that in all these incidents, Moshe demonstrated his care to for the weak, and his willingness to intervene in other people’s problems. Moshe was someone who would risk himself to take action for another.
The burning bush story says the reasons he could be a leader:
וירא ה’ כי סר לראות ויקרא אליו אלוקים מתוך הסנה – Hashem saw that he had turned to look, and God called to him from within the thorn bush. (3:4)
This is the very first time God speaks to him. This is when Moshe receives his mission. Moshe would need to become the ultimate leader. The quality he had was that he could “turn and look” – כי סר לראות.
Moshe was a natural helper, a complete giver, he wanted nothing for himself in return. Protecting the weak and helpless, with genuine self-sacrifice is the defining quality of a great leader. This is the type of person the Jews needed to take them from the depths of slavery to the apex of greatness.
A true leader must be ready to sacrifice everything for his people.
What could change in your circles if you lead a bit more?