The Previous Rebbe’s doctor was puzzled. The terrible hardships which the Rebbe had lived through during his imprisonment in Communist Russia had left his body partially paralyzed. It was very hard for him to talk and people had to struggle to understand him. “It seems,” his doctor said, “that more than most others, the Rebbe should not have had to suffer this difficulty. He is a leader and a teacher. He should have been granted the power to speak clearly so he could fulfill his mission with greater ease.”

Moshe Rabbeinu, the first Jewish leader, also spoke with difficulty. When HaShem instructed him to speak to Pharaoh he protested: “But how can I? I have a speech defect.” HaShem reassured Moshe that his brother Aharon would serve as his spokesman. The Previous Rebbe did not have someone else to be his spokesman. Despite his handicap, he spoke, taught, guided and led the people with determination and courage.

Some of us may think that the Previous Rebbe should have felt sorry for himself. Someone else might have resented this extra burden. But not the Previous Rebbe! He was a shining example of one who serves HaShem with happiness and who spreads happiness to others.

When we study Torah, we use our power of speech. We should study Torah and especially the Previous Rebbe’s teachings in a way which would make up for the difficulty of speech that he experienced. We should read the words of Torah loudly and clearly and explain their meaning so others will readily understand. Most important, we should do this with joy and happiness, in the spirit of the Previous Rebbe.

(Adapted from the Sicha of the Third of Shvat, 5752)