If you’re a regular reader of this blog you will learn pretty fast that Ben is the Parsha guy. He’ll give great insight and analogies into each week’s Torah portion and I learn a lot from reading his posts.
As for me… I tend to fly off in multiple directions… going with whatever is hitting me at any particular moment. And yet, I made a New Year’s resolution (yes, Jewish New Year!) that I would stay current with my own study of the Parsha. While I have not been perfect, I have been pretty good. Pretty, pretty, pretty good.
Today I’d like to marry the two, by discussing a particular part of the Parsha that really hit me, and how it’s practical and spiritual message can make a huge difference for all of us.
Something Ben discussed in last week’s post was expounded upon by the Center For Israel Education’s D’var Torah e-mail I receive every week.
In regards to Va’era they wrote:
“In the second portion of Exodus, Moses continues to be portrayed as the reluctant leader. Last week Moses asked G-d,“Who am I to lead the people?” G-d assured Moses that he would serve as an agent for the Divine and that the task would not rest on his shoulders alone.
In Exodus 4:10 Moses explains his reticence; he has never been a man of words and he is slow of speech and tongue. Then, in this week’s portion, Moses again pleads for G-d to let him off the hook as leader, this time identifying the source as his speech difficulties. The words in the text are עֲרַל שְׂפָתָיִם and the most common translation is “uncircumcised lips,” interpreted to mean “impeded speech.” Commentators over the centuries have concluded that the most celebrated and elevated individual in the Torah is someone with a disability.”
Moses… let me repeat that… MOSES… is coming up with excuses for why he does not think he is up for the task. MOSES!
And whether or not we accept that he had a speech impediment (Ben pointed out that some scholars take this literally and some metaphorically)… The fact remains that Moses still had doubts in his own abilities… even with Hashem leading him forward. This is significant on many levels and is hopefully a powerful lesson for all of us.
The article goes on to mention great leaders like Moshe Dayan and Ilan Gilon who were able to flourish in spite of, or because of, “disabilities” they had. Which also leads me to challenge the very definition of that word.
We all have disabilities… those things that perhaps prevent us from doing what we dream of doing or even believe is our purpose. This can be physical… but it can also be mental and spiritual.
Seeing what so many people overcome should be moving and inspiring… Yet sometimes we get stuck in our own way and in our own situations.
Many of us have doubts and fears… or sometimes, even a questioning of faith… I know I do, which is what made this passage so powerful.
We must realize that Hashem is giving us challenges so that we may overcome them… rise above them… and be successful. We must also realize that very often the tools we need to do this are already within us… and when they are not, it is up to us to seek out the means…
Fear and procrastination are my Achilles heel… I am working on changing this and finding ways to pursue and accomplish what I believe is my purpose in this world. I study with Rabbis and I read… a lot… sometimes, perhaps, too much… Action is key… and thus the amazing book Taking Action by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin. He gives a most practical guide on how to learn “the joyful art of Zerizus” and I have to say it is making a difference.
I think it was Viola Davis in a Q&A after a recent screening of Fences who said this… or something like it…
“You can either fear the jump… or simply jump with fear!”
I love how all these lessons seem to come at the same time… right when you (I) need them most… and yes, it is another example of how “there are no coincidences… it is just G-d’s way of remaining anonymous.”
So I challenge myself… I challenge all of us… to acknowledge that we may be “broken”… that we may have things holding us back… But we can still rise… we can still become leaders… make dreams come true… do anything. We can still fulfill the purpose of our lives…
We just need to trust in Hashem… accept the tests… always move forward… ALWAYS RISE… and sometimes… heck, ALL THE TIME…
JUMP WITH FEAR!