Rabbi Sherman’s Weekly Torah Commentary – January 15-16, 2021

January 15-16, 2021                                                                                           Parashat Va’era
3 Shevat 5781

More than anything, Moses needs people to listen to him, yet he has trouble speaking. In this week’s parasha, Moses hears the Divine command: he is to go to Pharaoh and demand that Pharaoh free the Israelite slaves. At first Moses resists. What is his justification? He claims to be aral s’fatayim – a man of impeded speech. He argues that if the Israelite people didn’t listen to him earlier, why would Pharaoh listen to him now?

We assume that strong leaders need strong voices; perhaps what leaders really need are strong listeners. Rabbi Yehuda Aryeh Leib of Ger (also known as the Sfat Emet, late 19th century) taught: “As long as there are those who will listen, then there can be those who speak, because the power of the leader issues from the people. For this reason, if the children of Israel listen to Moses, his mouth would be opened, his speech would be fluent, and his words would reach Pharaoh. But if they don’t want to listen to him, he would be made into one of impeded speech.”

As long as followers listen, even a leader with impeded speech can be eloquent and impactful. The speaker may be challenged in speaking. But the hardest part of all may be the listening.

For Reflection: Can you think of people with physical challenges who accomplished great things?

Prayer for Receiving the COVID-19 Vaccine
We are eagerly anticipating the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine to improve our lives and our world. We are grateful to the scientists who made it possible and to the health workers who will make it available to us. Last week I sent you a prayer you might like to offer when receiving the vaccine. You may keep this in your apartment, or bring it with you when you receive the vaccine.

Please join in this week’s Shabbat celebrations on Channel 1960:
Friday at 4:30 PM: Kabbalat Shabbat & Ma’ariv (Evening Service) & Blessings
Saturday at 10:00 AM: Shabbat Shacharit (Morning Service) & Blessings

Candle lighting time for the city of Mission Viejo:
Friday evening at 4:48 PM
Shabbat ends Saturday evening at 5:46 PM

Shabbat Shalom!                                                                                             Rabbi Sherman