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Human Perfection

Rav Kook explained that this Talmudic discussion revolves around a fundamental question regarding our principle aim in life. In what way do we fulfill our potential? How do we achieve perfection?
According to Maimonides, human perfection is attained though the faculties of reason and intellect. Our goal is to gain enlightenment and knowledge of the Divine, through the study of Torah and metaphysics. This is also the viewpoint of Rabbi Yehoshua. By hiding his face at the burning bush, Moshè lost a golden opportunity to further his understanding of the spiritual realm. If our fundamental purpose in life is to seek enlightenment, Moses' demonstration of humility was out of place.
The author of Chovot HaLevavot ('Duties of the Heart'), however, wrote that our true objective is the perfection of character traits and ethical behavior. This concurs with the opinion of Rabbi Yochanan. What Moshè gained in sincere humility and genuine awe of Heaven at the burning bush outweighed any loss of knowledge. Since the overall goal is ethical perfection, Moshè' action was proper, and he was justly rewarded with a radiant aura of brilliant light, a reflection of his inner nobility. 

(Gold from the Land of Israel, pp. 101-102. Adapted from Ein Eyah vol. I, p. 32)

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