Growing Pains

By: Rabbi Yisrael Baron

(Published June 3th, 2013 Sunny Isles Beach Community Newspapers) 

Moses had the historic role of leading the Jews out of Egypt. He was also chosen by G‑d to be His personal messenger to deliver the Torah, His word, to the world. This was the most important communication of all time. If this is the case, why did G‑d choose Moses for these rolls if Moses had a speech impediment? In fact, Moses himself asked this question of G‑d as he was being drafted for the job.

Moses was an 80-year-old shepherd when G‑d appeared to him in the burning bush, and drafted him for a career change. Moses argued that there were other people more fit for this job. G‑d responded, "Who has given a mouth to the mute?.." In other words, G‑d said, "Moses, you were chosen specifically because of your lack of communication skills, so that you shall know where your strength comes from, and not let your ego interfere. Realize it is not about you, and just step aside. Just as I have created the heaven and the earth, I will make everything work out.”

Indeed, Moses did prove to have the ultimate humility. He is later referred to as the "most humble man on earth." This allowed him to become the greatest prophet that ever was or ever will be.

I have a friend who had a terrible stutter, yet he was determined to overcome his handicap. So he would go out to the street corner and ask complete strangers, "Wh wh wha what t' t' t' time is it?" As a profession, he chose to go into sales, where he would not only need to be understood, but would have to be convincing, as well!! Now, after years of hard work, he has become an inspirational public speaker!!

It is counter-intuitive, but people with challenges go farther than those with natural talent. They value that which they worked so hard to accomplish. They are also more focused. When investing so much time and effort, such people give considerable thought as to what they wanted to accomplish. Most of all, when starting from humble beginnings, they take nothing for granted, they appreciate hard work, and they internalize the verse, "Who has given a mouth to the mute?"

The paradox here is that while struggling to survive, it may be harder to pursue your higher existence, your spiritual growth and well-being.However, when survival is no longer an issue, it is easier to forget about developing that higher existence.Finding that spiritual part within us that is crying out for attention, nurturing and direction, is crucial to developing that higher existence. And that's the part of us that needs to be given attention in order to fulfill our mission on this earth.

Anotherimpediment to growth is that people may become complacent unless they are challenged. Each one of us has an individualized and specific human potential, and that potentialhas a better chance of being revealed when our very existence is challenged. Don't feel left out if you feel that you have no challenges, because every person is challenged to grow beyond where they are. However, if we perceive ourselves to be a full vessel, brimming with pride, how can we absorb? Either life's circumstances can humble us, and that route is often accompanied by what we perceive as painful circumstances, or we can choose to realign our perspective and internalize the verse, "Who has given a mouth to the mute?"

Moses was not just humbled by circumstance. Even at the height of his greatness, he realigned his perspective to remain modest. Moses realized that he was given opportunities which others were not. Moses remained humble even after he was proclaimed the greatest prophet. He was humbled even by the simpleton. Moses thought, "Perhaps the simpleton would have taken better advantage of the gifted opportunities had they been given to him." Moses understood, as we should as well, that greater opportunities must be viewed as a package deal, they come with greater responsibilities, as well.

Feeling satisfied with or fulfilled at your position in life is the biggest enemy of growth. The hunger to fully realize your G‑d given potential has to be stronger than the discomfort that it might entail to daily grow beyond your perceived limitations. True growth takes work. Often we'd rather take the lazy or complacent route and say that we have no remaining challenges. So let's say “no” to that voice of stagnation, open our eyes to all of the marvelous opportunities we are given and not sit still. Let us enjoy the movement, the growth, and the occasional and fleeting discomfort of stretching to fulfilling our G‑d given potential...and be all we were meant to be!!!