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    Speak up, Moses! – D’varim

    Moses speaking to the Israelites, illustration from a 1907 Bible card

    The whole of the Book of D’varim is Moses giving the people a farewell oration.

    The Book begins, “These are the words which Moses spoke to the Children of Israel”.

    But we thought Moses had a speech impediment and was far from being ish d’varim – “a man of words”!

    We thought the Midrash had a story about how as a little child Moses burnt his lips and tongue with a hot coal and ever afterwards couldn’t speak properly!

    Over the years did he receive medical treatment that helped him to overcome his problem?

    It is of course possible that amongst the kohanim, the repository of medical knowledge in those days, there were experts in speech therapy who patiently worked on the leader (think of the recent film, “The King’s Speech”!).

    Whatever the medical answer may be, one thing certainly had a great influence on Moses, and that was life itself. His experiences from childhood onwards all played a part in enabling him to frame words and articulate thoughts.

    Shakespeare says, “There are sermons in stones”; with Moses there were sermons in every encounter with God, every aspect of dealing with the people, every mountain and every valley, every joy and every sorrow.

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