Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Torah Take Away - Nitzavim/Vayelech


As we approach the New Year, Rosh Hashanah, we also face the prospect of the last few parshiyot (Torah portions) of the Torah, getting prepared to closes the book of Deuteronomy. As the people Israel step closer to the land of Israel we are told Moses too approaches a transition – coming close to the end of his time as leader of the people Israel and the end of his life. Moses writes the Torah gives it to the priests with the instruction to teach it to the people.
Afterwards, God instructs Moses to write a song that will be sung to the people and specifically notes the song should be heard by the children who did not live in the desert, “who have not known”. The song will speak about God and teach the people to listen so that they fear God and observe the words of this law. Moses then teaches it to the people.
Some food for thought:

Why do you think Moses is told to give his final teaching in a song?

Why would a song be preferred over a traditional speech?

Why does God emphasize the song be taught to the children? How does that relate to the discussion you have/had with your children around your Shabbat table or about Judaism?

At the end of your life – what “words” will you leave your loved ones with? How would you end your time as a leader of a community of people?

A clear message does emerge when you think of Moses in the fullness of his life. Moses completes his time as the leader of the Jewish people with all of this talking, all of these words – as the book of Deuteronomy opens we read “these are the words which Moses spoke…” and now he finishes his last moments with the people with words. Remember this was the man who begin his time as a leader in the Book of Exodus saying to God why do you want me – “I am not a man of words...” – Moses a man with a speech impediment, uncertain of himself at the beginning of his journey ends his time as the leader of the Israelites speaking words of wisdom, insight and song. The message is relatively simple and clear but rather important – we must constantly be striving as Moses did to transform ourselves, turn our weaknesses into strength – a perfect message for the High Holiday season. What challenge – of words or deed- do you face and how do you turn it into a triumph this coming year?

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