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Monday, February 6

ספר שמות - Moses and the Bush, להבדיל

Moshe proclaims to השם:
כִּי כְבַד-פֶּה וּכְבַד לָשׁוֹן אָנכִי

An overwhelming majority of the commentaries understand this to mean that Moshe had a speech impedement. There is a well-known approach of דרשות הר"ן as to why this was. He explains that the saviour of בני ישראל was to deliver them through the power of the word of God. Had the deliverance come from a smooth-talking, influential, powerul speaker (like Charlton Heston, perhaps - again - להבדיל) history would look back on the Exodus and attribute the efficiency and success of its execution in some way to the personal qualities of the saviour. Moshe's impedement made it perfectly clear that the only reason why an entire nation recognized him as their leader and marched out of Egypt with him was because he spoke the word of God.

One of the common observations of today's political climate in the United States is how polarized it is. The divide between the two parties seems to be rapidly widening idealogically and diplomatically. One of the common reasons given for this is that the President is so firm and steadfast in his beliefs that one is forced to either strongly agree with him or vehemently oppose him.

I am not coming to argue with this approach. But it recently occurred to me that perhaps the approach of the ר"ן can be used to explain this modern-day phenomenon. It is no secret that the President is not a very smooth public speaker. Previous presidents such as "The Great Communicator", Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton had the power to win people over with their charm, even if they did not particularly care for their politics. Thus their group of supporters would include individuals at all sorts of levels of agreement with their policies. President Bush is not so fortunate. He is often ridiculed for his verbal foul-ups and misspeaks. His delivery, with his Texan style, can be comic at times. However, for this reason, his followers are, for the most part, standing behind him for no other reason other than support for his policies and beliefs. The line between approval and disapproval are more clearly drawn than ever before and perhaps that is a large contributor to our hostile political environment.


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