One Minute Torah: Vaera 5779

This week, God speaks to Moses, and tells him “I appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…” And now I am here with you, and you are to go to Pharoah.

This week’s One Minute Torah is from the archives:

This week, God speaks to Moses, and tells him “I appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…” And now I am here with you, and you are to go to Pharoah. And Moses replies – in a squeaky voice, I imagine — “How can I go to Pharoah? I am uncircumcised of lips.” Rashi, the great 11th C Torah scholar, explains this bizarre phrase, uncircumcised lips: “His lips were sealed”. The man who will soon sing the Song of the Sea, announce the Ten Commandments, teach the entire Torah: this man struggled to speak. No fewer than three times, we are told that Moses had a speech impediment, most likely a stutter.

Our most intense traits can be our greatest strength and our greatest weakness, simultaneously. They are the traits we struggle with the most. Actors are often introverts. Rabbis too, though our job is to connect with people. My PhD advisor was so severely dyslexic, learning specialists were shocked she could read at all. Yet she became a full professor at MIT and a star in her field.

Perhaps, we work so hard to overcome our handicaps, some of us surpass and excel. But I actually think the connection between challenge and strength goes deeper. Both lagging behind and excelling require being different from the pack, and when we specialize in one we often specialize in both. Moses was a poet. He was so full of words and meaning, he had to slow down to formulate them. The introverted rabbi has capacity to connect so deeply with people, she must to turn inward to revitalize. Dyslexia means seeing the world through a different lens, and can be a gift in an environment that appreciates creativity.

In the words of Psalms, “The stone that the builders disdained became the keystone.”