A Small Voice
God calls out to Moshe from the inner sanctuary of the Mishkan. Yet, as
Rashi points out to us, the sound of God’s voice, so to speak, was loud and
strong. However it was limited to the area within the Mishkan. Those who
were outside of that sanctuary heard nothing. The message imparted here is a
clear and simple one. Not everyone hears God’s voice nor can it be heard
There was a long period of time in English and American society that those
who entered the clergy were said to have responded to a “calling.” In our
jaded, materialistic, dysfunctional world of today a “calling” is something
to be mocked at as being naïve and impractical. Yet the Torah emphasizes
here that Moshe responded to such a “calling” and that in fact this became
the name and title of one of the five books of Moshe.
Leading and teaching the Jewish people can certainly be viewed as a
profession and a career. But if that is all it is then it is deficient in
its spiritual potential and its ultimate chance of success. Unless one
hears, so to speak, the voice of God calling one to public service and Torah
teaching, the soul of the matter will always be compromised.
Moshe is able to be the incomparable Moshe that he is because he hears the
Lord calling out to him even if no one else apparently does so as well. All
of his life he responds to that call and remains faithful to the task and
challenge that leading the Jewish people poses for him.
Midrash teaches us that Moshe first heard the voice of God, so to speak, at
the encounter at the burning bush. There the Lord called out to him in the
voice and tone of his father Amram and Moshe therefore was able to hear it
without being overwhelmed. Much later in Jewish history, the Lord told the
prophet Eliyahu that he could hear His call in the still small voice that
reverberates within all of our consciences.
God is heard, so to speak, in the voice of our ancestors, of Jewish
tradition and family bonds. Many Jews today are completely unaware of their
own family heritage and certainly of the greater heritage of Israel as a
whole. And very few of us are strong enough psychologically and spiritually
to hearken to our inner voice, still and small as it is.
So we wander through life seeking direction and guidance and turn to others
to help us find ourselves. First we should look inward for the Godly GPS
implanted within us. That is our Mishkan, the place where God’s voice can be
heard. Searching for it elsewhere, in the voices of strangers, outside of
our Mishkan will be frustrating and fruitless.
Since the voice of God, no matter how powerful and strong it may be, is
still described as being a small voice, it is obvious that one has to pay
attention and strain to hear it. This effort always characterized Moshe’s
life, the loyal servant of God, who was attuned to hear the calling that
guided him, and through him, all of Israel and humankind as well.
Rabbi Berel Wein