Q. Who are our Jewish role models?
A. Moses is one of our most outstanding role models. We call him “Moshe Rabbenu”, Moses our teacher. We can learn from him. But Moses is not divine. Nor is he perfect. He committed his sins, as we all do. “There is no righteous person upon earth who does only good and never sins” (Kohelet 7:20).
The great people of the Torah, including Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, are fully human. They are not gods or goddesses, nor are they saints. David admits his sins. Solomon is flawed. Biblical figures are role models precisely because they face the human dilemmas that we all do. They sin, and we sin, not because sin is intrinsic to being human, but because sin does happen when we are overtaken by a ru’ach sh’tut, a “spirit of stupidity”.
We can identify with the Biblical role models because we recognise that they are real. We admire what is great and good about them, but we are warned by their mistakes and say, “If I were David, I would know not to lapse as David did – but if I did lapse in any way, I would learn from him to own up to my mistakes and hope God would forgive me.”