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if moshe led us out of egypt, into israel, and is a great man why isn't he considered a forefather.

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The underlying question here is why we maintain as significant a "forefather" category. – Isaac Moses Apr 7 '11 at 1:16
Along with Moshe, is Aaron, David, and Yosef. – avi Jul 8 '11 at 15:50
...and Solomon, Joshua, Gideon, Elazar... – Double AA Oct 26 '12 at 15:51
Just a guess here, but weren't the people of Moses' generation already referring to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as forefathers already, especially in their formulaic references to "G-d of my fathers" or "G-d of Abraham/Isaac/Jacob/Israel"? Another thing that comes to mind is the tribe of Dan's "son of Moses/Menassah"(the "suspended Nun" indicator) priestly line, which might possibly make Moses the forefather of an illegitimate priesthood that the Tanach writers didn't want to keep reminding the people of.... – Gary Jan 3 at 4:03
up vote 9 down vote accepted

The forefathers are the great grandparents of every single Jew, however Moshe is not the great grandfather of every single Jew.

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I agree, but assuming that the avos are our forefathers, how would this apply to the imahos Rachel, Bilhah, and Zilpah? – Tzvi Apr 7 '11 at 0:32
Interesting enough there are places in Tanach where Rachel is referred to as the mother of all Yisrael and Leah as well. – Yahu Apr 7 '11 at 1:31
Since Bilha and Zilpa were the maidservants their children were considered the children of Rochel and Leah – Gershon Gold Apr 7 '11 at 1:49
@Yahu - Where are some places of these mentionings? – Adam Mosheh Jun 10 '12 at 22:59

See Ohr Hatorah by the Tzemach Tzedek

There are only three fathers because they embodied three characteristics that all Jews have (as an inheritance from them, because they are the source of all Jewish souls). But we do not have the characteristics other Tzaddikim (even like Reuvain, Shimon, etc. from whom we descend)

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But how does this square with the idea that Moshe is the "shepherd of faith" (רעיא מהימנא) for all Jews, and that every Jew's faculty of daas is connected to his (see Tanya, ch. 42)? – Alex Jul 6 '11 at 18:22
@jack, please replace the raw link with a citation of whom you're paraphrasing and from where. See here on how to make links. – Isaac Moses Jul 6 '11 at 18:22

As Gershon stated, the forefathers are our physical ancestors as well as our spiritual founders. We could just say we have one forefather, Ya'akov, or we could say we have 12, his sons. Or we could trace back to his father, Yitzhak, who taught him his tradition. Or we could trace back to his father, Avraham, who established the tradition. It's better to go to the source.

In addition, sometimes "Avoth" is used in reference to everyone in the wilderness after the Exodus.

But I assume the question is why "Avoth" generally is referring to Avraham, Yitzhak and Ya'akov.

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