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  • Writer's pictureReuven Sherwin

Role Models | On the Risk of Perfection - and How to Overcome It

(First published in Hebrew. Link here.)

Moses and Aaron | Icon 13th Century | @Ted flickr
Moses and Aaron | Icon 13th Century | @Ted flickr

If you know a little bible, you know a lot about Moses, and his older brother Aaron.

There's so much told about them, and their virtues.

The Jewish sages add more and more.

It feels that if you're in for virtues, and want a role model, Moses is a great one.

* A work colleague once told me "I believe we should set the bar quite high - so I can easily pass below it" (he was of course kidding - since he personally never settled for anything less than excellence.

** As a kid, and as a father, I many times read stories about righteous people who lived or live among us, beautiful stories that made us wonder about these amazing people, enjoyable to read, hear and tell - yet deep down I knew I'd never be like them.

These people were real - yet they were on a totally different scale, like super-heroes (of a moral kind), or science fiction.

This may resonate with some of you.


Bottom line is, if our role-model is in heaven, unreachable, unfathomable, then it's not a true role-model, 'cause deep-down inside we're not committing and not committed, since we know it's in the sky and unattainable.

On the other hand, if our role-model is far - but attainable, even if only when we squint our eyes and dream, and is made of a collection of super-tough - yet possible goals, then there's a real chance we can shorten the distance from us to the model.

We may never become like it - but we'll surely improve, we'll surely be better than we were.

A good model leave people with the feeling that if only they try a little (and a little. or a lot) more harder - that may get better.


The bible says about Moses:

* Not so with My servant Moses; he is trusted throughout My household.

* Now Moses was a very humble man, more so than any other man on earth.

Closer than any person to G-d, and more humble than any person on earth - a super-human combination.

And about Aaron it says:

* Even now he is setting out to meet you, and he will be happy to see you

* And Aaron was silent

* loving peace and pursuing peace, loving mankind

Happy for his younger brother (not trivial - but possible), can hold his temper (in exceptional situations, but something we can all try), loving people and actively trying to better their lives (needs a special character, not for everyone, but something many of us would aspire to).


If you forego being perfect - you risk being less than you can.

If you trying being perfect - you risk not only missing out on perfection - but being stuck at your current state.

That's the greatness of the Moses+Aaron duel role model.

You have not one - but two - role models.

So we have duel role models, reflecting two models, and "It is best that you grasp the one without letting go of the other, for one who fears God will do his duty by both".

Take what you can from one, continue being inspired by the other - and most importantly, never give up on a chance to get better, to improve yourselves and to do good to the world around you.

That's the lesson I'm trying to learn.

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