Dvar Torah on Parshat VaEra 5775 2015

In last week’s Portion we read that Moshe spoke to Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave and return to their own country. Pharaoh refused and imposed greater hardships upon the people. This depressed Moshe and he complained to Hashem.

This week we read again that Hashem tells Moshe to speak to the people to inform them that He is about to release them from bondage and take them back to their land. The Torah tells us that when Moshe spoke to them they did not heed him: מִקֹּצֶר רוּחַ וּמֵעֲבֹדָה קָשָׁה, “…because of shortness of breath and hard work.” (Ex. 6,9)

This is usually taken to mean that the Children of Israel did not accept Moshe’s words because of their shortness of breath or impatience due to their hard work in bondage.

The Ralbag, a biblical commentator of the 12th century, gives a unique and different meaning to these words. He implies that they did not accept Moshe’s words because of the shortness of breath of Moshe. They saw that he was depressed as a result of his first conversation with Pharaoh. They assumed that since he was so dejected from that outcome he will not be able to accomplish his mission.

A leader must have full confidence in what he wants to accomplish in order to succeed. If he goes about his tasks with half a heart and little spirit he will not succeed. Leaders must be forceful and decisive in their actions.

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