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		                                    Thinking Torah Blog		                                </span>

01/12/2023 05:00:00 PM

Jan12

Cantor Regina Lambert-Hayut

This week’s Torah portion, Shemot, is a very rich portion indeed! We begin the book of Exodus this week and learn of the Israelites’ slavery in Egypt, the birth of Moses and his story all the way through his being summoned by God at the burning bush to lead the people out of Egypt.

As I read the portion this year, one of the most compelling sections was when Moses says (Exodus 4:10): “Please, O my lord, I have never been a man of words, either in times past or now that You have spoken to Your servant; I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”

The traditional understanding of this is that Moses stuttered. The Hebrew of this sentence however can be translated as ‘heavy of mouth and heavy of tongue or language’ which gives us a different way of understanding Moses’ reluctance. Perhaps his heaviness of speech express his fears of blurting out the wrong words.

Earlier this week, unfortunate words were uttered by Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bernstein. As you may be aware, Justice Bernstein was critical of newly appointed Justice Bolden’s choice in her clerk, Pete Martel, a man who made serious mistakes and committed serious crimes in his youth but over time seems to have completely turned his life around. Justice Bolden felt him an appropriate choice for this position. His experiences could make him a light and a role model for other at risk youth. Unfortunately, not everyone saw it that way and words of condemnation were perhaps used far too lightly.

One of our most important values as Jews is Teshuvah - repentance.  We beat our chests for the entire day of Yom Kippur praying for the strength to do better in the coming year. Fortunately, Justice Bernstein recanted and himself sought forgiveness for his harsh words. Pete Martel spent 14 years in jail considering his actions and then began his road to redemption.

Let us all consider these examples of tongue and of action. Like Moses, I hope we can take the opportunity to be slower of tongue so that we choose words that uplift and heal whenever possible.

Tue, January 31 2023 9 Sh'vat 5783