This week's Torah Reading:
: Deuteronomy 31: 1 - 30
, begins telling of the last days of Moses. Joshua will now lead the people and God will be with them. Moses finishes writing the Torah and gives it to the
, with instructions that it should be read to the people. The
ends with an introduction to the poem which will be read as the final regular Torah portion of the year.
As Moses nears the end of his life,
centers on a theme that concerns many of us this time of year; how can we pass on to the next generation our priorities and values? We see Moses setting for us an example of how to do that. First, as difficult as it is, Moses realizes that it is time to let go. He is able to do so because he has lead a very full and productive life. He appoints a worthy successor, Joshua. "And he charged Joshua son of Nun: 'Be strong and resolute: for you shall bring the Israelites into the land that I promised them on oath, and I will be with you.' " (Deut. 31:23) He realizes that through Joshua, Moses also will "be with you".
More than appointing a successor, Moses also knows that what he has taught the people will continue to live on long after he is no longer physically present. "Moses wrote down this Teaching (Torah) and gave it to the
, sons of Levi, who carried the Ark of the Lord's Covenant and to all the elders of Israel." (Deut. 31:9) Moses can now be satisfied that he can rely on people reading and studying the laws and commandments he has already spoken of. Indeed we, some 2500 years later still read and learn from the teaching Moses taught, the Torah.
In a sense we each write our own personal Torah, hoping that our descendants, both physical and spiritual, will continue to build on the wisdom we will pass down to them. We pass it down through our words and deeds, thereby achieving a sense of immortality because what we are, the life that we have lead, is something that is worthwhile being emulated by others. As we approach
, we hope that our lives will begin to approach the model of Moses, so that we too can say to those who come after us, "be strong and resolute and carry with you all that of value I hand down to you, and in that way I will be with you." May we all be inscribed and sealed,
g'mar chatima tovah
, for a good and valued new year!
Rabbi Steven Kane