web analytics
March 1, 2015 / 10 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Torah And The Acquisition Of Eloquence

“And these are the words that Moshe spoke to all Israel beyond the Jordan in the wilderness, the Arabah, over against Suf, between Paran and Tophel, and Lavan, and Chatzeros and Di-zahav.”

How Moshe Rabbeinu has changed since our first encounter with him in Chumash Shemos. The same man who declared that he was not an Ish Devarim, a man of words, now speaks Ha-devarim (the words) that will occupy and inspire us for the next several weeks. What caused this dramatic transformation? How did this self-described speaker with a “heavy mouth and heavy tongue” achieve the eloquence on display throughout this parsha and the parshiyos that follow?

In Midrash Tanchuma, the people of Israel themselves are seen to have posed this very question:

“Israel said: yesterday you claimed, ‘I am not a man of words’ and today you speak so much?”

Rabi Yitzchak supplies the answer and with it advice for the elocutively-challenged everywhere:

“If you are a stammerer, then study Torah repeatedly and you will be healed.”

Rabi Yitzchak suggests that it was Torah that transformed Moshe Rabbeinu into an orator. The repeated connection between thought and articulation helped the “shepherd of Yisro’s sheep” become the “shepherd of the flock” of Israel. I think, however, that we might read Rabi Yitzchak’s words with more precision. “Repeat the Torah,” he tells us. Read the words of the Torah twice. Follow the instruction of the Gemara in Berachos:

“One should keep up with the community in the weekly portion, reading the Scriptural verse twice and once in translation.”

This is not an unlikely reading at all, in my humble opinion, since Rabi Yitzchak was a colleague of Rabi Ami, the source of this statement. In at least three places in the Gemara that I can recall, the two are quoted as disagreeing with the Gemara, noting that there is some confusion as to which one said what: “Rabi Ami and Rabi Yitzchak disagree: one said… and one said…” This is not to suggest any confusion in tradition, only to assert that these two Talmudic sages were intimately involved in halachic discourse and that it is not at all forced to suggest that Rabi Yitzchak refers to a practice first mentioned by Rabi Ami.

Of more interest than this semi-historical aside is the content of Rabi Yitzchak’s explanation. Moshe Rabbeinu becomes the paradigm of an individual rendered eloquent through the learning of Torah. I am reminded of an incident many years ago when I was privileged to accompany a world-renowned Gadol to an important event. We encountered a friend of his whom he had not seen for several months. Their conversation was awkward until the topic turned to the sugya in Gemara that he was learning. This great man was not particularly expressive in other matters as I discovered driving him home, although he asked politely after my family and how we were settling in our new home. When the topic was Torah, however, his words flowed with confidence and ease. I have seen this pattern repeated on other occasions by other eminences.

If the Tanchuma’s question can be answered by what happened subsequently to Moshe Rabbeinu at Sinai, then it can also be answered by considering the specific context in which Moshe Rabbeinu made his claim. This is the approach of Rav Baruch ha-Levi Epstein z”l, among others. Although he is known principally for his commentary on Chumash entitled Torah Temima, he wrote a second commentary as well, eponymously entitled Tosefes Beracha. At the beginning of Parashas Devarim, Rav Epstein notes that Moshe Rabbeinu was responding to being sent on a diplomatic mission to Pharaoh when he described himself as not being a man of words. In this context, he intended specifically to disqualify himself for the delicate task of speaking to the ruler of all Egypt. It is this context that defines the meaning of his words. Raised in the royal court, the young Hebrew was likely familiar with the flowery language of the court. It was this special variety of speech for which he was unsuited. It requires special talents and experience to negotiate with those who walk the corridors of power.

About the Author: Rabbi Ozer Glickman is the Rosh Yeshiva at RIETS.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Torah And The Acquisition Of Eloquence”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prays at the Western Wall ahead of his speech next week at the US Congress.
Netanyahu Visits Western Wall before Leaving for US
Latest Judaism Stories
Niehaus-022715

One should not give the money before Purim morning or after sunset.

Mendlowitz-022715-Basket

The mishloach manos of times gone by were sometimes simple and sometimes elaborate, but the main focus was on the preparation of the delicious food they contained.

Winiarz-022715-Kids

Does Hashem ever go away and not pay attention to us?

Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

In other words, the Torah is an expression of the Way that we must follow in order to live a divine-like life and to bond in the highest way possible with God or Being Itself.

The Chasam Sofer answers that one of only prohibited from wearing a garment that contains shatnez if he does so while wearing the garment for pleasure purposes.

The avodah (service) of the kohen gadol is vital and highly sensitive; the world’s very existence depends on it.

Moreover, even if the perpetrator of the capital offense is never actually executed, such as when the fatal act was unintentional, Kam Lei applies and the judge cannot award damages.

Forever After?
‘Obligated for Challahh and Not Terumah’
(Kesubos 25a)

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

“We really appreciate your efforts in straightening the shul,” said Mr. Reiss. “How is it going?”

This was a spontaneous act of rest after the miracle of vanquishing their respective foes. The following year they celebrated on the same days as a minhag.

The way we must to relate to our young adult children is to communicate with genuine loving-kindness

Jewish prayer is a convergence of 2 modes of biblical spirituality, exemplified by Moses and Aaron

In holy places it’s important to maintain a level of silence permitting people to dialogue with God

Eventually, after some trial and error, including an experience with a prima donna and one with a thief, I baruch Hashem ultimately found a fine, honest and reliable household helper.

More Articles from Rabbi Ozer Glickman

Moshe Rabbeinu’s orations to Am Yisrael offer us the opportunity to be elevated and inspired in the weeks ahead.

Heston

“The generalities of the commandments necessarily have a cause and have been given because of a certain utility.”

The following letter was sent in response to Pidyon Shevuyim: Redeeming The Agunah, a column by Cheryl Kupfer (12-21 On Our Own):

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/torah-and-the-acquisition-of-eloquence/2014/08/01/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: