Could Moshe have benefitted from Speech Therapy?

In Parshat Shmot (Shmot 4:10) when God first chooses Moshe for the job of taking B’nai Yisrael out of Egypt, Moshe explains: “I am not a man of words- not since yesterday, not since the day before- not from the time You first spoke to Your servant, for I am ‘kvad peh’ heavy (slow) of speech and ‘kvad lashon’ heavy (slow) of tongue.”

In Parshat VaEra (Shmot 6:12) when God asks Moshe to speak to Pharaoh, Moshe answers “B’nai Yisrael have not listened to me. How will Pharaoh listen? And I am ‘arel sfatayim’ a man of uncircumcised lips.”

In both instances Moshe is explaining that he is not able to speak properly.

According to Ibn Ezra, the definition of ‘arel sfatayim’, uncircumcised lips is the same a ‘kaved’, heavy. Moshe’s tongue is covered or tied up and therefore it is difficult for him to speak.

In Yishayahu 6:9-10 we have an example of ears being heavy and unable to hear:

God said “Go-tell this people: Hear, you shall hear but not understand, you will see but you will not know. Fatten the heart of this people; make their ears heavy ‘v’oznav hacbed’; coat their eyes with plaster, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and their hearts understand and they return and are healed.”

In Yirmiyahu 6:10 we see ears being uncircumcised and unable to hear:

God said “To whom shall I speak and warn, that they will listen? Behold their ear is uncircumcised (blocked) ‘arela oznam’ and they are unable to listen! Behold the word of God has become an object of ridicule to them; they have no desire for it.”

The concept of heavy eyes, meaning losing eyesight is found in Breisheet 48:10:

Yisrael’s eyes were heavy ‘kavdu’ with age and he could not see…

Moshe’s speech was impaired and therefore he felt that he wasn’t up for the job.

God answers Moshe (Shmot 4:11): “Who gave man a mouth, or who makes a person dumb or deaf? Who makes a person see or makes him blind? It is not I- God?

God obviously knows that Moshe has speech issues and can work around them.

Rabbeinu Chananel brings the interpretation of Rabeinu Bechaya: The fact that Moshe mentioned two deficiencies shows that he was kvad peh- he had difficulty in forming certain words which are articulated with the teeth as well as kvad lashon- he had difficult pronouncing certain letters.

Ibn Ezra explains that Moshe was born with kvad peh, slowness of speech, he had a problem with labials, as well as kvad lashon, slowness of tongue which is a problem with linguals. In other words, it was difficult for him to enunciate some of the letters. God’s solution was to make sure that the words that Moshe needed to say would not have the letters that were difficult for him to pronounce.

In response, we see in the next verse (Shmot 6:13) “God then spoke to Moshe and Aharon, commanding them regarding B’nai Yisrael and Pharaoh, king of Egypt, to bring out B’nai Yisrael from the land of Egypt.”

Chizkuni points out that here God is telling Moshe that he doesn’t have to worry, his brother Aharon would be there to help him.

This is clear in Shmot 7:1-2:

God said to Moshe, “See, I have made you a master over Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall be your spokesman. You shall speak everything that I command you, and Aharon, your brother shall speak to Pharaoh, that he should send B’nai Yisrael from his land.”

Although there was no speech therapy in those days, Moshe was still able to do the job, despite his limitations.

In the end, begrudgingly, Pharaoh let B’nai Yisrael go.

No matter what communication issues or limitations we may have, we must continue to cry out and insist that the hostages in Gaza are set free.