Parshas Va'eira 2018: Understanding A Peron's Psyche
We find our parsha beginning with Hashem reassuring Moshe that he will succeed in his mission and that he is indeed the man for the job. Moshe felt he was inadequate, for the Pharaoh as well as his own people disregarded what he was transmitting from Hashem. As the passuk says, “Moshe spoke accordingly to the Children of Israel; but they did not heed Moshe, because of shortness of breath and hard work. (Shemos 6:9)
How can it be that a nation enslaved for 210 years wouldn’t even bother hearing what Moshe had to say about their Promised Land? Didn’t they want that more than anything? The answer is of course they did!
Until now, Moshe had been telling them all about how Hashem was going to bring them to the “Promised Land” .... but they were suffering. It did, indeed sound nice to them, but the only thing on their minds was the slavery and their current oppression.
We have an entire section of Halacha (laws) that discusses exactly how a Jewish person should conduct himself with his fellow Jew. Hundreds maybe even thousands of commentaries were written on this topic because when looking out for the wellbeing of another, be it emotional, spiritual, or physical, it’s critical to convey encouragement in the proper manner.
When a person is suffering, often the only thing they can think about is how to make it stop - there’s nothing else they want to hear. Even if you paint them a picture of the how splendid their future is truly going to be once it’s over, they still won’t necessarily be able to relate to it or be comforted by it. Emotional support and encouragement must be done in the proper fashion or they are likely to be “turned off” making things worse. If you enlighten them with a solution which will make their pain and suffering stop, then they’ll find a sense of comfort in your words.
This is something I think we can glean from the parsha. Hashem had Moshe approach the Pharaoh and the Jewish people from a whole new angle. As it says, “Hashem spoke to Moshe…. speak to Pharaoh…. send the Children of Israel from his land.” (Shemos 6:10). Moshe needed to appeal to their needs. As any good salesman will tell you, lead your customer to a place where he wants or believes he needs the product you’re trying to sell him.
Hashem understood the miserable condition His people were in. He knew the only way to get them to listen to Moshe was to “sell it to them.” As soon as Moshe mentioned “leaving Egypt” rather than just taking them to “the Promised Land” their ears perked up. To them the idea of going to the Promised Land was merely a dream. Just as one might dream to travel the world, live in a large home, or drive a Lamborghini, this was something they couldn’t really relate to. Therefore, Hashem directed Moshe to speak in terms of their immediate need which was getting out of the land of their oppression. Have a wonderful Shabbos and weekend! Maverick V. Peters