- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On September 28, 2018
- 0 Comments
In the end, all we have is the reputation we have established through the collection of our behaviors over a lifetime. For some, the information is well known, but for others, actions stay hidden unless revealed by the telling of their story by themselves or others.
Moses’ life was detailed in all of its glory, from the perilous moment of his birth to the dramatic timing of his death. He could not escape from every description of the journey of his life. His leadership, his anger, his family relationships, and his encounters with authority and the people who challenged him remained on full display to be analyzed and critiqued. Challenge and triumph followed him all the days of his life. He did not choose, but was chosen; and he accepted his destiny as an obligation even when he complained about those who complained.
Moses could have shown hubris, blown his ego out of proportion to claim his position of power. He had grown up in the privileged world of the palace only to discover that his place was with the enslaved people he had thought would always serve him. He turned into a shepherd, the caring guide of the Israelites and prophetic voice to lead them into freedom.
But he faltered and would not lead the people all the way into the land of great promise. He would have to view it from a distance, from a mountain in the land of Moab. He could gaze but could not arrive there. He could have ranted and railed against the ultimate Judge. “I have let you see it with your own eyes, but you shall not cross there.” (Deuteronomy 34:4) Even so, throughout all of his travails, he led with humility. It was the character trait most often associated with him. (Numbers 12:3)
As his life was coming to an end, Moses focused his attention not on himself but on the tribes of the people of Israel in order to bless them. This portion is called Zot Habrachah, This is the Blessing. Unlike every other portion in the Torah, it has no Shabbat assignment. Rather, it is read at Simchat Torah as we end with the words of this section and immediately, and without a breath, go to the beginning of Genesis.
As we leave this week to enter Shabbat and then move into the holiday, the parting message of the Torah calls out to us. The Talmud summarizes it well: As water flows from the high ground and settles in the low, so are the words of Torah alive only in the humble. Moses, as leader and prophet, embodied what it means to show humility even in the face of one’s faults. As he blessed others, he, too, was blessed to live for 120 years…his eyes undimmed and his vigor unabated. (34:7)
It is important to know as much as we can about our leaders, even to the final seconds of their lives as well as the last words of Torah. Character matters, especially humility. It allows us to move forward finally, to begin again.
Shabbat Shalom and Hag Sameah
Qabbalat Shabbat begins at 6:00 p.m. tonight. We will be praying in the beautiful atrium Sukkah, and blessed by speakers from The Parents Circle Families Forum, which is a joint Israeli-Palestiniian Human Rights Initiative of people, who have lost a family member to the conflict, and have chosen a path reconciliation. If you cannot join us, please live stream HERE. Torah Study begins at 9:00 a.m tomorrow with a short service followed by a lively discussion.
Erev Simchat Torah is Sunday, September 30th, please find all details HERE. Join us for a joyful celebration, we will unroll the Torah Scrolls around the Sanctuary and it is a beautiful sight to see. The festivities will continue as we dance in the streets with the Torahs, a Temple Israel Block Party.
I look forward to your thoughts and reflections, please send them to me directly HERE.