And Moshe spoke before HASHEM saying, “They, the Children of Israel
will not listen to me and how will Pharaoh listen to me and I am of
uncircumcised lips. (Shemos 6:12)
Why does Moshe go backwards to the old excuse of the speech impediment?
His argument seems strong enough that he feels that the Children of Israel
won’t listen and how much more so Pharaoh.
The Sefas Emes offers the following amazing insight on the verse, “Because
the Children of Israel will not listen, therefore he was of uncircumcised
lips…Speech is in exile as long as the recipients are not ready to hear
the word of HASHEM…” He goes on to explain that to the extent that the
listener is unavailable, the words are hidden and the more ready the
recipients are, the more open and revealed is the message as we find by
the giving of the Torah when HASHEM declared, “I am HASHEM…” it’s no
mistake that the Jewish Nation was at the most pure and ready state to
receive that highest and holiest of communications.
Pardon me for mentioning it but there’s a Zen saying, “When the student is
ready, the teacher appears.” If it’s true in the universe, it must have a
source in Torah. This may be the address for that notion which I believe
has broad implications
Many years ago when I had my first few glorious encounters with Shabbos
and I had just started to wear a slim silk Yarmulka precariously upon my
curly crop of hair. A relative from the west coast I had never heard about
had contacted my uncle because she was living in Brooklyn and was about to
get engaged. She wanted to invite east coast relatives to her wedding. I
was given the contact info. I went to Brooklyn for Shabbos and she got
engaged. I met her brother Eliahu who was learning in Lakewood. He was a
quiet fellow and almost subliminally suggested multiple times, “Why don’t
you go to Ohr Somayach?!” I didn’t know what in the world he was talking
about. I thought a fly was buzzing about my head.
Within a short period of time the government job I had been working at
fell through because the comptroller ran Venezuela with the money he
should have been paying to vendors. I retired to my family’s house in the
quiet suburbs of New York while trying to figure out what the next great
thing should be.
One day I was wearing my Tefillin, davening, and writing into the late
morning when a knock came to the door. I asked from inside who was there.
A young voice answered, “We’d like to talk to you about reading the
Bible.” I told them that I’m sort of reading the Bible right now but I
didn’t think this was the appropriate time. They got more excited and
insistent and then I just opened the door and there posing before me were
two clean cut looking guys with broad smiles and black books.
When they saw me with my Tefillin, their jaws dropped. No one said a word.
They looked at each other, a classic double-take, and they just started to
run. They scampered up the block at top speed and disappeared around the
corner. I stepped out to witness this queer phenomenon and when they were
out of sight I said to myself, “Why don’t I go to Ohr Somayach!?” That day
I made the trek to Yeshiva where I would stay and learn for many years,
I am reminded of what Rabbi Eliahu Dessler ztl. writes, that when Eliahu
comes to announce Moshiach’s arrival at the end of times, he will not make
grand pronouncements but rather he will speak into the ears of
individuals, one from a city or a family and suggest they do Teshuva. The
person will think it’s his own thoughts, but it’s really the voice of
When we made a Bris for our youngest son five years ago I forgot to
include one of the honors on my list. I was asked, who’s your honoree for
Kise’ Shel Eliahu (Seat of Elijah). At that moment my cousin Eliahu had
just arrived from Lakewood. I said, “That’s my Eliahu!”