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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

You Have a Voice

Updated: Jan 13, 2021

Parshat Vaeira emphasizes time and again the importance of the voice. There are repeated references to Moses speaking to the Hebrews and to Pharaoh without results. Moses is afraid to use his authentic voice as he is self conscious of its limitations. Aaron serves as a mouthpiece for Moses because of this discomfort. God ultimately provides the words and Moses and Aaron deliver the message to Pharaoh. Eventually, although it will take ten plagues and much death and destruction to do so, Moses and Aaron's voices win and the Hebrew slaves are set free.

This short poem explores the power and responsibility that go along with having a voice.

To Moshe and Aharon b'nei Amram v'Yochevet, whose voices, with God's help, helped to free a people.

And to those who use your voices for good, this is for you.

You Have a Voice

Your eyes may reveal your soul

Your hands may reveal your vocation

Your smile might reveal your mood

Your voice, like the color of your eyes

or the shape of your hands

is given to you at birth,

and provides the powerful gift of words

The sound may be barely a whisper

or loud and booming

It may be shrill or deep

it may falter or it may howl

it may sing out or reach to the depths

It may emerge imperfectly

You may stutter or stammer

Your words may not flow like water

but splatter like oil in a hot pan

But nevertheless it is your voice

It has power!

Fear may be a wall between your voice and others

Ideas may clutter in your head

but the words exit your mouth haltingly

Syllable by syllable, each word has value

no matter the speed or the rhythm

Your words will be heard

Your message may be simple

or wildly complex

Perhaps a muffled message

whispered into an ear

or a purposeful shout to a crowd

Words chosen carefully

a voice authentic and true.

Remember its power is awesome

and is always to be respected

Your voice matters

Do not allow silence to win

Do not box yourself in

Let your voice ring out

Your voice can move mountains

It can open the gates of heaven

Your voice carries your prayers and demands,

your hopes and dreams, your love,

your dissent.

Without your voice we are all diminished

May you always use your voice to comfort and inspire

to soothe and lift up

May your voice always speak truth

May your voice be powerful but never harsh

May poetry escape your lips, no matter the speed or cadence

It is your beautiful voice that harmonizes with the voices of the millions

It is your powerful voice that makes democracy

It is your chosen words that change history

It is your holy words that set people free

Exodus 6:12 (Translation from Sefaria)

וַיְדַבֵּ֣ר מֹשֶׁ֔ה לִפְנֵ֥י יְהוָ֖ה לֵאמֹ֑ר הֵ֤ן בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ לֹֽא־שָׁמְע֣וּ אֵלַ֔י וְאֵיךְ֙ יִשְׁמָעֵ֣נִי פַרְעֹ֔ה וַאֲנִ֖י עֲרַ֥ל שְׂפָתָֽיִם׃ (פ)

But Moses appealed to the LORD, saying, “The Israelites would not listen to me; how then should Pharaoh heed me, a man of impeded speech!”

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