Why was a great man like Moshe given a speech impediment?
There are a number of reasons. But one is to let us know that Moshe did not sell the Torah to the Jewish people with salesmanship. If he had a smooth tongue then you could have attributed it to that. It was Aharon who had to do the speaking. Moshe stood by. It was his personality that helped. Moshe was a very big salesman, but not with words. And since then, our great men have not been great orators.
Cato, the Roman senator, you know he was a great orator but it wasn’t worth listening to him. Because he was talking all the time war and war and war. Carthago delenda est! He was urging war all the time. And besides, all the great Roman orators were famous liars; it’s well known.
But among Jews we didn’t have great speakers. Hillel wasn’t a speaker. Nowhere does it praise these great men as orators. You know what they did? All of them had meturgmanim, people who spoke for them. They had younger men with big lungs, lusty lungs, who spoke for them. Our great men were not speakers. The only ones who could speak well were the neviim. And they spoke beautifully. Because their words had to be remembered.
Now I’m going to tell you a little secret, however. Moshe Rabbeinu became one of the best speakers. That’s what the midrash tell us, subsequently he became one of the best speakers. That’s after the Torah was already accepted. And Moshe Rabbeinu left us over samples. תפילה למשה איש האלקים. We have a sample in Tehillim. It’s a beautiful piece of poetry. Of course it was inspired by Hakadosh Baruch Hu but Hakadosh Baruch Hu doesn’t speak through the mouths of rusty pipes. He sends His inspiration through smooth pipes, pipes of gold or pipes of chrome. And so Moshe Rabbeinu became a great speaker subsequently, after the Torah was accepted.
TAPE # 202
From Tape # R-22:
Q: Up until now I personally, outside of perhaps you Rabbi, I haven’t met very many gedolim.
Rav Miller: I’m not a gadol; very far from it.
Q: Well, I’m very much impressed with your delivery.
Rav Miller: A gadol doesn’t have any good delivery. A gadol stammers when he talks. A man who has good delivery is not a gadol. He’s a public speaker.
Q: Well, I think you understand the subject matter, I think you have some element of gedulah.
Rav Miller: I’m a speaker. A gadol can’t speak. A gadol can think!
TAPE # R-22