Faith in the New Year

Shabbat Shalom and Happy New Year!

On this, the first Shabbat of 2019 our Torah portion, Va’era offers a profound message as we begin a new year- When 2018 ended, the Israelites were in Egypt, suffering greatly in servitude to Pharaoh. God instructs Moses to speak with Pharaoh, asking him to let his people go. Moses, though, is hesitant- he is self- deprecating, feeling unworthy. He protests that he is “slow of tongue”, suggesting a possible speech impediment.

God reassures Moses saying: I placed you in this role as messenger and prophet, indeed you will be able to repeat the words I speak to you.Thus Moses finds the courage he needs to embark on his new venture. So too can we find reassurance and courage to begin our adventure in this new year.

My colleague Rabbi Neal Loevinger notes: it is reassuring that God chose not the strongest nor the fastest, not the smartest nor the most beautiful, but rather God implanted Divine Truth into a person “slow of mouth and slow of tongue.” If Moses could rise to the occasion and speak words to Pharaoh that would change the whole course of human history, then we too can face our challenges, seek out opportunities and make a difference in the world around us. We can look at the year ahead with the hope, that despite our limitation and frailties, we can accomplish our unique destiny.

Moses, despite his extraordinary life, is just like all the rest of us: called upon to be a partner in the work of creation, by a higher power who has faith in us even when we don’t have faith in ourselves.

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