Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Na'ar Anochi

In the first chapter of Yirmiyahu it is written:

ד וַיְהִי דְבַר-יְהוָה, אֵלַי לֵאמֹר. ה בְּטֶרֶם אצורך (אֶצָּרְךָ) בַבֶּטֶן יְדַעְתִּיךָ, וּבְטֶרֶם תֵּצֵא מֵרֶחֶם הִקְדַּשְׁתִּיךָ: נָבִיא לַגּוֹיִם, נְתַתִּיךָ. ו וָאֹמַר, אֲהָהּ אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה, הִנֵּה לֹא-יָדַעְתִּי, דַּבֵּר: כִּי-נַעַר, אָנֹכִי. {ס}

ז וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֵלַי, אַל-תֹּאמַר נַעַר אָנֹכִי: כִּי עַל-כָּל-אֲשֶׁר אֶשְׁלָחֲךָ, תֵּלֵךְ, וְאֵת כָּל-אֲשֶׁר אֲצַוְּךָ, תְּדַבֵּר. ח אַל-תִּירָא, מִפְּנֵיהֶם: כִּי-אִתְּךָ אֲנִי לְהַצִּלֶךָ, נְאֻם-יְהוָה. ט וַיִּשְׁלַח יְהוָה אֶת-יָדוֹ, וַיַּגַּע עַל-פִּי; וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֵלַי, הִנֵּה נָתַתִּי דְבָרַי בְּפִיךָ. י רְאֵה הִפְקַדְתִּיךָ הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה, עַל-הַגּוֹיִם וְעַל-הַמַּמְלָכוֹת, לִנְתוֹשׁ וְלִנְתוֹץ, וּלְהַאֲבִיד וְלַהֲרוֹס--לִבְנוֹת, וְלִנְטוֹעַ.
In response to Hashem designating him a "prophet unto the nations" Yirmiyahu responds that he does not know how to speak and that he is but a lad. I do not think Yirmiyahu is referring to his age but rather to his lack of experience as well as his lack of reputation. As Rashi points out Moshe Rabeinu only chastised the nation at the end of his life when he had already gained a reputation for all that he had done for the people.
Hashem responds to Yirmiyahu:
"Do not say, "I am but a lad", because you will go on every mission that I send you and you will say everything I command you. Do not be afraid of them because I am with you to save you, says Hashem."
Hashem's response does not seem to solve Yirmiyahu's problem - is Yirmiyahu no longer inexperienced because Hashem will save him? Will the people listen to Yirmiyahu who has no reputation?

There are two reasons people will agree with a speaker: 1) The people hear the truth of what is being said and give their assent (agreement as a result of deliberation). 2) The speaker has a great reputation with the people and as long as he does not say anything too ridiculous the people will acquiesce (passive agreement). B'nei Yisrael listened to Moshe Rabeinu largely on account of the second reason. The lack in this kind of agreement is the strength of the people's belief in what is said. The people trusted Moshe Rabeinu and were impressed by him as a person - whatever he would say they would believe because of the implicit trust they had in him (and rightly so). Once Moshe Rabeinu is gone so to is that which maintained their belief. This method can not work when what the people need to do is sincere teshuva. The people must give assent to the truth because they see that it is true not because so-and-so said so. This was the state B'nei Yisrael were in when Yirmiyahu was sent on his mission. If his mission is to succeed the people must listen to him because he is relating the d'var [word/idea of] Hashem not because he is Yirmiyahu. This is the meaning of the next two verses:
"And Hashem stretched out His hand and touched my mouth and Hashem said to me, "Behold, I have placed my word (davar) in your mouth." See, I have appointed you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to uproot and to smash, and to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant."
Yirmiyahu is to be nothing more than a mouthpiece.