Thursday, July 30, 2015

Va’etchanan (I pleaded) / D’varim (Deuteronomy) 3:23 – 7:11

Va’etchanan (I pleaded) / D’varim (Deuteronomy) 3:23 – 7:11
Discussion parashah: 3:23 – 4:4

            Moshe is still in the first of his four discourses, which make up his, the last of the five books that bear his name – the Books of Moshe.  This selection begins with a recounting of Moshe asking HaShem to relent and let him cross over into the land of promise.  Having never seen it, he still described how he wished to enter and see “the good land on the other side of the Yarden, that wonderful hill country and the L’vanon!” (3:25b CJB).
            How would he know this?  He would know from the reports the spies brought back forty years earlier.  He would also know because one of the faithful spies, Joshua, was his “student”, and it would not be unlikely, in my opinion, that Joshua would speak longingly of what he had seen.  After all, he and Caleb had a promise from the Almighty One that they would go in and take possession of the land as a result of their faithfulness.
            Moshe also related to HaShem that he, Moshe, knew that you, “Adonai Elohim, have begun to reveal Your greatness to Your servant, and Your strong hand…” (3:24a CJB).  Wow!  I don’t recall having seen that phrase before, but with all that the Lord had done until that time, Moshe was still expecting more, more of the revelation of His greatness!  Maybe I do not consider the ensuing events within the Tanakh and the B’rit Chadashah with enough awe!  Shame on me.
            Moshe received a negative response from the Ancient of Days, but in obedience, did not bring the request up again.  Likewise, when told to take Joshua and commission, encourage, and strengthen him to assume command upon the passing of Moshe, Moshe was entirely obedient, but we know of his obedience to this directive from B’midbar (Numbers) 27:18 – 23.
            Chapter 4 commences with Moshe instructing the people to listen (and obey – sh’ma) the instructions he was giving them.  He also gave them a qualifier as to how to obey the mitzvot.  The people were not to add to nor subtract from the Moshes’ charges.  Why were there to be no additions or subtractions, because that is what permitted the Midianite to vex the Israelites at Baal-Peor, and the ones who followed Baal-Peor had died, while those who were obedient to the word of Elohim were still alive at the day Moshe pronounced this.
            This beginning of chapter 4 brings up a thought of mine.  Perhaps it is worthy of further discussion.  Is “putting fences” around the mitzvot an act of adding or subtracting from the Word of the L-rd?  I ask this because it seems to me that there are those who obey out of fear rather than out of love and commitment.  Would it not be easier, would it not be proper if we, out of love, just obeyed according to the “fence of the Almighty”?


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