Avidan Freedman

56/929 The Torah’s Stutter

Chapter 6 seems to suffer from a stutter. There is the obvious repetition of an entire, albeit short, dialogue between God and Moshe, but the attentive reader will also notice other examples of phrases and sentences which are repeated or end abruptly.

The Torah’s stutter echoes Moshe’s own speech impediment, offering a literary expression of the Torah’s affirming message about this disability.

Moshe’s handicap is not denied or white-washed. When it is first mentioned in chapter 4, God’s response is: “Who has given man a mouth? Or who makes man dumb, or deaf, or sighted, or blind? Is it not I, God?” We might have expected the next sentence to continue this thought by having God fix Moshe’s problem, but that is surprisingly absent. The response instead is the promise of assistance.

Although ultimately, Aharon speaks on Moshe’s behalf, this doesn’t seem to have been the originally intended solution. Rather, it is Moshe’s persistent anxiety regarding his effectiveness as a speaker which “pushes” God to appoint Aharon. Here too, the Torah’s message is affirming- as it affirmed the existence of the problem, it now affirms Moshe’s subjective anxieties and particular needs for a solution. At the same time, the Torah gives the lie to his claims on a factual level. Moshe’s lack of success with the Jewish people and with Pharaoh are both explained by the text, and neither are connected to Moshe’s speech impediment.

But notably, even once Aharon is introduced as a spokesman, the Torah stubbornly insists that Moshe speak as well. “You will speak all that I command you, and Aharon your brother will speak to Pharaoh” (7:2). Couldn’t they have discussed beforehand what Aharon would say? Why does Moshe need to speak it himself?

The message: A stutter is an impediment. It means you might need some assistance, someone to be with you. What it emphatically doesn’t mean, though, is that you can’t lead, or that you can’t be effective, or that you need to lose your voice.


My own little daily 929 insight, in 300 words or so. What’s 929? A near-impossible challenge of consistency. A song of Jewish unity. A beautiful project worth checking out. Learn more at

About the Author
Avidan Freedman is the co-founder and director of Yanshoof (, an organization dedicated to stopping Israeli arms sales to human rights violators, and an educator at the Shalom Hartman Institute's high school and post-high school programs. He lives in Efrat with his wife Devorah and their 5 children.
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