Parshas Va’eira – We are perfectly imperfect

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Bt Rabbi Shlomo Rosenfeld

In this week’s Parsha, we hear in the פרשה the last time Moshe would say אני ערל שפתים, I have “covered” lips. Moshe had a speech impediment/lack of eloquence that he felt disqualified him from being the one to convey Hashem’s message to both the Jewish people and to Pharaoh. This week Hashem relents and agrees to have Aharon be Moshe’s mouthpiece, so to speak, Moshe goes forward with the mission and never again brings up his imperfection.

The אור החיים הקדוש says that we see from various words that are used throughout the story that this was not Hashem’s original plan. For example, it says ויהי ביום דבר י-הוה אל משה ואל אהרן, and ויהי is a word that connotes negativity, which is used since there was element of this being a secondary plan. When Hashem originally approached Moshe, He wanted Moshe to go himself and be the sole messenger to redeem the Jewish people.

Yet, we see that Hashem never once told Moshe that he is wrong about his speech problem, and still Hashem wanted Moshe, with his imperfectness, to go before Pharaoh and the people. The first time Moshe brings up his ineloquence, Hashem says כי אהיה עמך, I will be with you and you will succeed. This was Plan A, for an imperfect orator to speak repeatedly to Pharaoh and the people for a full year before they leave Egypt. Hashem relented and agreed to use Plan B, but that was not what Hashem had wanted.

Hashem doesn’t want us to be perfect. We aren’t perfect. And it is specifically in the places of our imperfections where Hashem says כי אהיה עמך, that is exactly where I will be with you! I will hold your hand while you struggle with your shortcomings and failings and that is where I will guide you. Our מצוות aren’t perfect, our עבירות aren’t perfect, our decisions aren’t perfect, and our accomplishments aren’t perfect. When we look in the mirror we are not meant to see 100%. That is not the goal. The goal is to fall down and get back up. The Pasuk in משלי says כי שבע יפול צדיק וקם, it doesn’t say וקם צדיק, rather יפול צדיק וקם. Part of being a tzaddik IS the falling down.

We all know the famous adage, לא ניתנה תורה למלאכי השרת, the Torah was not given to heavenly angels. It’s a nice saying, but is there possibly a deeper meaning? Was there ever a time when the Torah was almost given to the angels? Indeed, there was. The גמרא in Shabbos tells us the story of Moshe going up to הר סיני and all the angels challenging and terrifying him, questioning God, what is this human doing among us? To which Hashem replies, he came to get the Torah. The angels panic! Our Master, your hidden treasure which predates the universe by 974 generations You’re going to send it down to Earth!? Hashem tells Moshe, you answer them. Moshe grabs hold of the כסא הכבוד to ensure that the angels don’t consume him with their fiery breath and says, what does it say in the Torah? Honor your mother and father, don’t worship idols, don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t be jealous. Angels, do you have parents? Do you have idols? Do you have a יצר הרע that would push you to steal, kill, or be jealous? They relented and agreed to that it makes sense to have the Torah sent down to us humans.

This story seems to be what the saying לא ניתנה תורה למלאכי השרת is referring to. It was only because of our יצר הרע, our failings and imperfections that Moshe won the argument and we deserved to have the Torah. Hashem is perfect, He doesn’t need us to be. He needs us to struggle day after day, sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing. And He needs us to know that it is in those places that He will be with us through it all, smiling with love and taking care of us.

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