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Let Me Hear Your Voice

  • Harav Yehuda Amital

Sicha for Shabbat from the Roshei Yeshiva
Yeshivat Har Etzion




Let Me Hear Your Voice

Summarized by Dov Karoll


At the beginning of this week's parasha, Moshe delivers a beautiful and inspiring message to the people of Israel, containing the five phrases of redemption:

And I will bring you out… and I will deliver you… and I will redeem you… and I will take you to Me as a people, and I will be your God… and I will bring you into the land… (Shemot 6:6-8)

What could be more uplifting? Yet this message did not meet with the enthusiastic response one might have expected:

But they hearkened not to Moshe, for anguish of spirit and for cruel bondage. (6:9)

One message emerging from this episode is that words alone cannot solve problems. Even the greatest message can fail if the crowd is not willing to listen. The people physically heard what Moshe was saying, but they were not harkening in the deeper sense. They did not pay sufficient attention to his words, nor did they allow the words to penetrate.

The Maharal explains that Moshe was "impeded of speech" because his speech was beyond the constraints of normal physical speech; it was purely spiritual.

Even if we do not go as far as the Maharal, we could say that God wanted Moshe's message to be conveyed by their content alone and not through persuasive rhetoric. Many leaders throughout history have succeeded in this latter method, but Moshe's message needed to be conveyed in a pure manner, and the Torah highlights the fact that he was "impeded of speech" to emphasize this point. Moshe got his point across through the strength of the message itself.

Yet even the inspired words of Moshe Rabbenu were not enough to get his message across. At that stage, the Jewish people were not open to hear his message.

In order for Torah to penetrate, we need openness. We can listen to sichot and learn tremendous amounts, but we still need Divine assistance for the message to pervade us and to allow us to grow. We pray to God daily (in the "U-va le-Tziyyon" prayer), "Hu yiftach libbenu be-Torato, ve-yasem be-libbenu ahavato ve-yirato…" - "May He open our hearts with His Torah, and place in our hearts love and fear of Him…"

Not only do we need to be open to have God's words penetrate our heart, but we need to open our hearts to call out to Him in sincerity. In Shir ha-shirim, which the rabbis understood as an allegory for the relationship between God and the Jewish people, we read the following:

For the winter has passed, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of the singing bird has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth her green figs, and the vines in blossom give their scent. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. O, my dove, who is in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the cliff, let me see your countenance, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet and your countenance is comely. (2:11-14)


God is calling out to the Jewish people: the winter has passed and the new spring is upon us. Please let Me hear your voice. God is, so to speak, asking us to pray to Him. He desires our prayers. He wants to take the Jewish people out of Egypt, and all He awaits is for them to call out to Him.

We need to bear in mind that God desires to hear our prayers, and that this is what can help us when we are in difficult situations. May we merit that God should hear our prayers, when we can express our real selves to Him, and escape our false cover.

[Originally delivered at Se'uda Shelishit, Shabbat Parashat Vaera 5762 (2002)]


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