D'vrei Torah by Rabbi Ellie Shemtov
Dwell on the problem and the problem gets bigger. Dwell on the solution, the solution gets bigger.
You know the old saying: when times get tough the tough get going. Not to state the obvious but as of late, times have been pretty tough. I suspect even the sturdiest of survivors, the toughest of the tough, have recently experienced days when they have struggled to stay positive and move forward in their lives. The trick of course, is to not let our problems get the better of us.
In last week’s Torah portion Shemot, Moses is living with his family in Midian, where he is gainfully employed by his father-in-law Jethro as a shepherd. It’s a peaceful life which is soon turned upside down when God shows up and instructs Moses to lead the Israelites out of slavery and bring them to the Promised Land. Moses immediately finds reasons why he is not the right candidate for the job. After all, Moses says, I am כְבַד־פֶּ֛ה וּכְבַ֥ד לָשׁ֖וֹן, slow of speech and slow of tongue (Ex. 4:10) Plus, what if the Israelites don’t believe me?
In this week’s Torah portion Vaera, Moses continues to dwell on why he is not the right guy to bring the Israelites out of slavery. Even so, he does tell the Israelites about God’s promise to free them from slavery and bring them to the Promised Land. But, just as Moses feared, the Israelites don’t believe him or listen to him. If the Israelites with their spirits crushed by cruel bondage (Ex. 6:9) don’t listen to me, Moses tells God, why in the world would Pharaoh listen to me?
In the meantime, while Moses is dwelling on his problems, God is dwelling on solutions. You don’t think the Israelites will believe you? Show them these miracles I am about to show you. Surely, they’ll believe you after that. You’re slow of speech? Well, I’m the one who gave you the ability to speak. So go and I will help you speak and I will tell you what to say.
As the story of the Exodus continues, Moses will keep relying on God for solutions but he no longer argues with God about why he is the wrong man for the job. Moses has slowly come to understand that if you dwell on the problem, the problem gets bigger. But, if you dwell on the solution, the solution gets bigger.