All during Passover, we think about Moses (even though he is barely mentioned in the Haggadah), then we continue to read about his role in leading the people through the last pages of Deuteronomy.
Countless people have discussed the qualities that made Moses successful and many write about his failures. We know this man through his story and we look to this story for lessons in our own lives. Will there ever be another Moses? (Not according to the final lines of Deuteronomy, 34:10-12 — “Never again did there arise in Israel a prophet like Moses…”) It might be nice to have another Moses, but we definitely need leaders and perhaps wonder if we could be a leader.
Countless researchers have looked into what makes a leader. We may read those leadership books and measure ourselves and our leaders against those qualities. In 2012, Susan Cain wrote the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, and in 2017 a new book Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverted Kids. Both are fascinating, whether you are an introvert or extrovert, although one of her goals is to demonstrate that we must not devalue introverts. (Read the books to find out why.)
Now what did she have to say about Moses? First understand that introversion and extroversion come down to how we best derive energy. Introverts recharge from inwardly focused activities and extroverts get their charge through external stimulation. Looking at Moses, you would think he was an extrovert as he certainly had to be around a lot of people, all of them looking to him and needing him.
However, think about it — Moses liked to spend time alone as a shepherd; he admitted that he was not a man of words (we call it a speaking phobia today), and he spent a long time on a mountain alone with God. Without those interests and qualities, he wouldn’t have seen the burning bush, and he certainly would not have been able to spend so long alone on a mountain. Cain says of Moses: “…the medium is not always the message; and that people followed Moses because his words were thoughtful, not because he spoke them well.”
In an article titled Was Moses an Introvert? in the March/April 2018 issue of Hadassah Magazine, Marla Brown Fogelman quotes Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove from his sermon on Moses at the Park Avenue Synagogue: “God chose someone who would not be swayed by unfounded adulation or undue criticism, whose ethic would be shaped not by external pressure or perception but by an inner moral compass.”
Moses never took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, but we know that our sages attributed these important virtues to him — silence, humility and thinking before you speak. We needed a leader who could be alone with God and one who could step up when needed. We need the introverts of the world.