A similar situation takes place in the parsha this week. Moshe Rabenu is niftar, passes away, and Hashem introduces the new leader of klal yisrael to them. From deep in the hat, He pulls out...none other than [drum-roll please]... Yehoshua Bin Nun! Thousands of jaws dropped noisily to the ground as the place stared in disbelief. Then, as if rehearsed, they all burst out crying.
Helloooooo, people, that's RUDE. Was Yehoshua so scary looking? Living without Norelco or Colgate, I'm sure they've all seen worse.
How can we possibly understand what had just transpired?
Without the Chasam Sofer's insight, Id be up all shabbos bothered by this. But he says something so deep and so encouraging.
Yes, the Jews cried when they found out their new leader was Yehoshua. No, it was not because they were upset that it was him. Their tears were made up of a few combined emotions. Regret, awe, and inspiration. And, possibly happiness, too.
I'm thinking back a bit to remember who Yehoshua was. He was the shlockshames, he was the janitor, and he was also Moshe's stalker. He was the one who cleaned up the shul and stacked the sidurim. He followed Moshe around the neighborhood 24/7. He was never hired as a lecturer or a rebbe. Not even as a kashrus mashgiach. He was just... Yehoshua. And yet, out of all the teachers and michanchim, and principals, and businessmen of any trade...He was chosen. And that's because he came from nothing and was soooo determined to reach greatness and to achieve holiness, that he did. He consistently served Moshe, learning from his every gesture. No matter what the weather, he was by his side with utmost respect and dedication. And he internalized it all, and grew... becoming the man who was most worthy of leading the Jewish nation.
So why did they cry? Because they thought "If he could do it, why couldn't I?" It didn't take a rocket scientist, or a huge talmid chochom , or anyone with any incredible talents or creativity to become the new gadol hador. Any one of them could've acquired that position. And they realized that. And that's why they cried.
The same thing goes for all of us on our own individual levels. Whatever we set our minds to doing, can be done. Whatever or whoever we want to become, we will become, as long as the determination, consistency, and dedication is there.
Take a look at the greatest Torah teacher that ever lived. Rabbi Akiva. Did you know that he was the son of a simple convert? Did you know that he was not exceptionally bright, but scored average?
Did you know that he was already applying for senior citizen's discounts when he finally caught on to the Aleph bais? Did you know that he could've been a welfare recipient?
Why would G-d have picked someone with everything against him to be the greatest Torah teacher of all time?
Because otherwise, once he had become the great person he was, we all would've said "Of course he's a great rabbi. He's the son of Rav Yaakov..." or "... He was valedictorian of his class..." or ".. his father is the prime benefactor of the community..." or "...he had a great spiritual upbringing..."
And we could have every excuse in the book for not wanting to reach greatness, and why those who do become great have a 'reason' for making them more capable of reaching that level of greatness. So by making Rabbi Akiva the top Torah teacher of all time, Hashem is proving to us that there is no possible excuse for every single person not trying their utmost to be the greatest person they can possibly be.
"No sense in being pessimistic; it wouldn't work anyway"
CHAZAK CHAZAK V'NISCHAZEK.
Have a great shabbos