Rabbi O’s Weekly Parsha: Shemot (Exodus 1:1-6:1) Trust or Narcissism?

After being told by G-d to return to Egypt and command Pharaoh to release the Jews, Moses says:
‘Please G-d, I am not a man of words, also not since the day before yesterday, nor since You first spoke to Your servant; for I am heavy of mouth and heavy of speech.’ (4:10)
Is Moses telling G-d something He does not already know? Moses was asking G-d the same question many people in the world ask. “If You knew I never could speak as a child, why didn’t You fix me? If You knew I would need to speak to the Jews and Egyptians, why haven’t You healed me already? If You can turn water into blood, my staff into a snake and have leprosy appear on my hand, why can’t You fix my lips?
Why are You asking me to go to Egypt with a disability?”
What was G-d’s response?
Who makes a mouth for man, or who makes one mute or deaf or able to see or blind? Is it not I G-d?” (4:11)
Just as the Almighty is the One who makes people talk, He can surely fix Moses’s impediment. How do we understand His answer?
We tend to think that when we pray and do that which we know to be right, everything will turn out as we would like. But that is not always how G-d we are runs the world. I read the following story by a Rabbi, who is also a highly successful entrepreneur, named Zacharia Wallerstein.
When it was discovered that my father had a tumor on his liver, a biopsy was scheduled to determine whether it was malignant or benign. The night before the procedure, as I sat in the hospital waiting room, Dr. Israel, who planned to perform the procedure, approached me with an idea. “The Talmud says that for the Almighty to make a public miracle, a person must have many merits. However, a private miracle is an easier ‘ask.’ I have an idea for you. I know a poor widow who is marrying off her daughter tomorrow and has no money. Perhaps if you pay for the wedding, that will serve as a zechut (merit) for your father. Maybe even if the tumor is malignant now, G-d will perform a private miracle and by tomorrow it will be benign.”
Hearing his suggestion, I immediately took out my checkbook and wrote out a check for the needed seven and a half thousand dollars. I didn’t tell my mother or brother; it was going to be my secret; G-d was going to do a miracle because I paid for this wedding.
The rest of the night, I thought to myself, “G-d, You are the best. You sent me a religious doctor and it happened to be that a poor girl needed money for her wedding.” Everything all fit in my head perfectly. I was sure that tomorrow the tumor was going to be determined benign.
The next day, as they took the biopsy, my mother asked me why I didn’t look nervous. “G-d is taking care of this,” I said. Everything seemed perfect. But then the doctor returned with the worst news. “It is not only malignant, but also very aggressive. He only has three months to live.” I was shattered; everything was supposed to work out.
What happened?
I realized that I had the same question as Moses, who asked, “G-d, why don’t you fix my mouth if I cannot speak?” (“G-d, why can’t You heal my father? I even gave generously to someone in need.”)
What was G-d’s answer to Moses? “I give a mouth that can talk, but I also give a mouth that cannot talk. I give eyes that can see, but I also give eyes that cannot see.” G-d’s message to Moses was that He (G-d) will be with the mouth that stutters; He will be with him in his disability. “I am not going to change you so you can talk normally. You will not be able to talk as you would like. You are always going to stutter and have a lisp. That is your perfection. The imperfection, the disability, is the perfection and I am going to be with you in that disability. Do you want Me to fix your mouth? If I do, you will not be able to carry out your mission in this world.”
All the imperfections and challenges we have are there for a specific purpose. We are meant to use them to reach our own potential and perfection, and at the same time set an example for someone who is struggling with the same or similar challenge.
“Why don’t you fix it? Why can’t I get married to the person I am going out with?” Because, for whatever reason, you are not supposed to. We may not know the reason, but we have to understand and believe that whatever we go through, there is a reason for it.
Do you trust G-d only when He does things exactly as you would like, when you would like , and the way you would like? That is not trust, it is narcissism. When one gives up self and is willing to see that there is a bigger and more beautiful vision of your life than you can imagine, and that you trust that G-d is guiding you and giving you everything you need for it, peace of mind and calmness will ensue. When the going gets rough remember that the boy with a speech impediment, who seemed to be abandoned, disabled, constantly in danger and fought against by his own people, is the one who became the greatest Jewish leader of all time and an inspiration to millions of people from all religions and walks of life since then. He trusted G-d; so can we.
Good Shabbos

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Rabbi Oppenheim
Charlotte Torah Center