Often, we have heard the phrase that if anything is worth saying, then it is also worth being repeated over and over again! This has been true since time memorial, where “words of truth and noteworthy character” have been repeated over and over again. Many times, these words are of a sociological, anthropological or even a religious nature. For us, such is reminiscent in our Torah portion today (Deut. 1:1-3:22) where on the thirty-seventh day before his passing, Moshe recounts for the people whom he has loved and led the faithful words of the Torah of Adonai!
For our scene, all of Israel has been assembled to hear from God’s prophet reiterate all that had been declared over the last forty-years during Israel’s journey from Mitzra’im (Egypt) to Sinai to the Promised Land. In this, our Parashah begins, “These are the words Moshe spoke to all Isra’el on the far side of the Yarden River, in the desert, in the ‘Aravah, across from Suf, between Pa’ran and Tofel, Lavan, Hatzerot and Di-Zahav. It is eleven days journey from Horev to Kadesh Barnea by way of Mount Se’ir. On the first day of the eleventh month of the fortieth year, Moshe spoke to the people of Isra’el, reviewing Adonai had ordered him to tell them.” (Deut. 1:1-3, CJB)
Many theologians have questioned why only days before his death, Moshe takes on this task to recount all which Adonai had already declared previously in the Torah. Was it because the people had a bad memory? Possibly, such does occur when we stray away from God, and forget the good things he has done for us. But no matter what some might speculate, I believe that the instruction of Adonai is repeated out of an overwhelming love for God’s people! Knowing that his days are short, Moshe’s heart goes to only one place - that the people whom he has served and love would finally “get it” and with all their heart, soul, mind and strength serve Adonai! Here Moshe does not want the people of God to forget the goodness of God, and even rebukes them because of their previous failing and iniquities and calls them to a higher level of covenantal faithfulness in keeping the Torah, observing all of the Lord’s commands and knowing that they are God’s covenantal people and entrusted with that of an eternal heritage and blessing! As we have seen over and over again, when Moshe and Aharon either saw the people walking in spiritually compromise, turning to other gods and serving them - or their loving leadership, their response was the always to same -
To turn to God in intercession for the people and lead as Yeshua did (cf. Phil. 2) as a servant to all!
At the end of the day. Moshe primarily and singularly had a shepherd’s (pastor’s) heart for the people of Israel, and his greatest desire was that all the people would not miss it, but instead would embrace all that God had for them.
May our attitude be the same as his as we serve one another.
There is no greater calling!
~ Rabbi Mark Rantz
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