One of the joys of spending a week at Camp JRF was being able to spend time with other rabbinic colleagues. I am especially grateful to Rabbi Yael Rapport from Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in NYC. She asked the campers the following question about the book of Deuteronomy that we start this Shabbat: “How was Moses, who was petrified of speaking, whose lips felt like they were sealed shut, able to give a speech that lasted for an entire book?” Rabbi Rapport suggested that instead of speaking to the People of Israel, Moses might have sung the words. Imagine the entire book of Deuteronomy as a musical celebration of our forty-year journey. And the amazing thing about this insight is that is what Jews do today: we sing Torah to make it come alive
Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, and James Earl Jones, are just a few of a long list of names of actors or other noteworthy individuals who stuttered early in their life. Instead of shutting down or giving up, they kept working and working until they were able to succeed. We all cannot be good at everything, but we do not have to let our shortcomings be impediments to accomplishing our goals. By finding a way around his struggles, Moses inspires us all to reach for the stars. So for now on, do not think of Deuteronomy as a long boring speech at the end of the Torah, but as an inspirational song that is a testament to someone who never let his sealed lips prevent his voice from being heard.