Thursday, January 22, 2009

Why won't they listen?

Another little teaching from this week's Torah portion...

In Exodus 6:9, Moses tells the Israelites that God is getting ready to save them, but they don't listen. Why? Moses tells God that it's because he isn't speaking well (verse 12) - he blames himself. But, Hizkuni points out that Moses is wrong - the text actually tells us that the reason the Israelites wouldn't listen is because "their spirits had been crushed by slavery." They were so downtrodden that they weren't able to hear the good news. It wasn't Moses' fault at all - it was the Israelites'!

Nahmanides, though, has a very different explanation: "You, God, did not make my words ones they could listen to." It wasn't the messenger, and it wasn't the recipient. It was the message.

In the end, any of these are possible. Sometimes, a message doesn't get across because it's delivered poorly - a different approach will yield different results. Sometimes, the target of the message is just not in a place to hear what you have to say. But, sometimes, the message itself is the problem. My guess is that some of us always blame ourselves ("I'm failing") when we fail to get our point across, and some of us always blame the other person ("He's an idiot"). How often do we wonder if maybe it's just the wrong message?

Just a thought for the morning...

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