Parshas Shemos - No One Loves Your Child Like You Do

By BJLife/Reb Dovid Fink

Posted on 01/04/18

In introducing us to Klal Yisroel’s greatest prophet and teacher, the Torah also portrays for us a valuable lesson regarding the psychology of human beings.  When Hashem tells Moshe that he should go to Mitzrayim and communicate to Bnei Yisroel that the time for the redemption has come, Moshe resists in a number of ways, none of which is nearly as pronounced as his protest that “I am not a man of words” and “I am slow of speech and slow of tongue” (Shemos 4:10).  Hashem then assures Moshe that he will give him the ability to perform miracles with his staff and produce leprosy, but Moshe is still declining the mission.  Finally, Hashem says Ahron will go with you and be your spokesperson. 

After telling Bnei Yisroel that the redemption is at hand, Moshe again responds to Hashem by claiming “Bnei Yisroel doesn’t believe me how will Pharaoh listen and I have impaired speech” (Vaeira 6:12)  Moshe in fact, goes with Ahron and produces these miraculous signs and tells Pharaoh to let Bnei Yisroel go out to the desert for three days to bring sacrifices to Hashem.  Pharaoh refuses and instead orders Bnei Yirsoel’s workload to increase, by withholding straw from them in building their bricks.  As we move further into parshas Vaeira, Moshe continues with protestations of the same kind.  Hashem tells him to return to Pharoah and Moshe resists stating, “I am of impaired lips” (Vaeira 6:30). 

We can understand how Moshe used all means at his disposal to resist Hashem’s mission.  First he was the humblest of people.  He truly did not believe he was worthy of being Hashem’s messenger. Second, he was wanted for murder in connection with the Mitzri who he had killed, the whole reason he had fled life in the palace in the first place.  Finally, he has this speech impediment, which in his mind has always made him of lesser communicative abilities.  It is this issue with his “disability” though which dogs Moshe throughout – even after Hashem had given him the ability to perform miracles and given him Ahron as his spokesperson.  Why was this one issue seemingly impossible for Moshe to get past?  How could he keep bringing this same issue up again and again and again after Hashem had assured him that it would not hamper his mission?

When someone is impaired, objectively or subjectively, the effect on one’s self image can be buried deep into their psyche.  A person who believes they are overweight, can become depressed or anorexic, even if they are completely normal or of slight build.  A person who believes they are intellectually challenged can feel inadequate or worthless even when they are of gifted abilities.  Obviously, when someone suffers from an objective impairment, how much more so it can affect their self image.  In fact, it can become the very nature of how they define themselves.  Even Moshe, our greatest Navi and teacher defined himself as one “with impaired speech”.

In a time when ever more children are faced with diagnosis of ADD, ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia, Learning Disabilities and Down’s Syndrome, we must be extremely vigilant in not allowing these challenges to define these people.  This is true in two crucial aspects.  First, we must realize that “labels” can sometimes be helpful in grouping symptoms for treatment or remediation, but it is still just a label. We should not use them to define people.  People can and do overcome many difficulties.  Sometimes, the label can be the most difficult thing to overcome.  Second, parents must remember that no one cares for or loves their child as much as they do and they must push back against the institutionalized urge to give everyone, who is even the least bit out of the box, a label or a diagnosis.  The Chozon Ish’ parents were told that their son was not “bright enough” to warrant spending the extra money for advanced Torah studies, Helen Keller was deaf and blind shortly after birth and Albert Einstein failed grade school miserably, presumptively due to multiple learning disabilities.  One shudders to think as to how any of them would have fared in today’s “advanced” society.

Challenges are difficult enough to overcome without the associated practical and psychological stigmatization that often goes along with it.  We all have challenges.  What defines us is not how we do with what comes easily but how we triumph over the obstacles which are placed in front of or inside of us.  Our society needs to try harder to always keep in mind that while none of us are perfect, we also all have what to contribute and should be valued accordingly