Welcome back to Torah Thoughts from Adas Israel the Jewish Congregation of Northern Iowa! This week we read Parsha V'etchanan (I pleaded) Deut. 3:23 - 7:11. We are dealing with a prayer Moses is offering as he continues to tell the story of the wanderings and of the great and amazing things that have happened along the way. "I pleaded with Hashem (G-d) at that time saying, "My Lord, Hashem you have begun to show your servant Your greatness and Your strong hand..."
Moses is pleading with G-d to allow him to cross over into Israel however, as he tells the people, "...and He did not listen to me..." In a sense Moses is blaming the Jewish people for making him angry so that rather than speaking to the rock he hit it with his staff and not following the command by G-d.
Interesting isn't it? How often do we get angry and do something that is irresponsible and wish that we had not? Or we attempt to blame somebody else for our impulse. It happens all the time and here it happens to the greatest of teachers. What chance do we have?
The story is important from the aspect that we can learn from this and when we are about to do something that we know is counter to the commandments we should stop and reflect on what we are about to do...or say.
Moses then goes on to recount the commandments in the Torah and impress on the people the importance of following them. He further instructs them to not to add or subtract from the words of the Torah and to keep all of the Commandments. He then reminds them that G-d has no shape or form and that we should not make or worship idols of any kind. (Now you know why our synagogues have no human or animal images).
We are told about the Cities of Refuge where accidental murderers can escape there to avoid revengeful relatives and wait until trial.
Then Moses recounts the Ten Commandments to all of the people. He then expounds the Shema, affirming the unity of G-d, "Whom all should love and transmit His commandments to the next generation." A man should wear Tefillin upon the arm and head. All Jews should put a Mezuzah (the scroll is the essential part) upon each doorpost of their home (except the bathroom).
Then Moses delivers something many of you will not want to hear. It is no less a commandment than "You should not murder". In Deut. 7 3-4 he says why G-d commands us not to intermarry. Why? "...for they will lead their children away from Me." This is a difficult commandment because it is in stark contrast to our "feelings of love" for someone of the other faith. Yet it is all so very true. We don't think of the future at the time of taking a husband or wife. The question of faith and how to raise those children often do not come to pass and many say, "We will offer them both religions and allow them to choose". Our role as parents is to guide and direct and it's not often about "free choice". Consider that we don't allow our children to decide when and where to cross the street. We offer our training and guidance. If religion is truly important should we allow children to make up their own mind?
It is all something to ponder and discuss.
May you all have a beautiful and peaceful Shabbat!