Saturday, July 24, 2010

Speaking of Moshe. . .

In honor of my own birthday, I agreed to give the shul's women's shuir, or lesson, on this week's parsha - Ve'eschanan, which literally means "he pleaded." Moshe is pleading with G-d to change his destiny, and he loses his battle.

This week's parsha has all the elements of a great soap opera: betrayal, love, law, and destiny. Essentially, Moshe must come to grips with the fact that his destiny is not to enter Israel but to die in the desert, just like the generation condemned to die for the sin of the Spies, a heartbreaking realization not just for him but for us as well.

But there's a good reason for that destiny. Without Moshe, that lost generation in the desert will never reach Israel, because when Moshiach comes, it's Moshe who is lead them in. Otherwise, they will not be allowed in.

And if Moshe did enter the Land then, in the merit of his greatness, the Jewish people would never sin, never be conquered. In other words, human history would not play out.

By the parsha's repetition of the 10 Commandment and the Shema, the following picture is created: our destiny is the end game, and most, if not all of us have no idea what our personal destiny is. But Torah (the 10 Commandments with commentary) is how we get there - because the journey involves free will. However, that journey, for a Jew, requires loving G-d, which is the basis of the Shema.

Interestingly enough, the Jewish people are never commanded to believe in G-d, just to love Him. I suppose it's because you can't love something you don't believe in, and love is an emotion that just gets stronger. But love is not just to G-d, it is from G-d as well.

So this week's Torah reading is all about definitions: Moshe future role, the behavior required of all Jews and a Jew's relationship to G-d. It's the kind of reading that gets your head straight about where you're going and how to get there.

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