Go Tell It On Some Other Mountain: D’varim 2017

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: What sometimes prevents you from getting important things done? Are you occasionally prone to inertia? Are you sometimes afraid of the unknown?

As the book of Deuteronomy opens and Moses begins his review of the Israelites’ wanderings in the wilderness, he notes that their journey from Mount Sinai was long overdue:

The Pitch: “The Lord our God spoke to us at Horeb, saying: You have stayed long enough at this mountain.” – Deuteronomy 1:6

Swing #1: “(Said Moses to the Children of Israel): When you were on the mountain of Horeb, the Lord told you that you are not to look upon every obstacle and hindrance as an unconquerable mountain, but that you must surmount any obstacles that might stand in the way of your worship of the Lord.” – Mo’or VoShomesh

Swing #2: “Every move of the Israelites comes in the wake of a divine command, and indeed Moses takes the trouble to inform each time that the move was executed according to God’s command. … The autobiographical style of the book of Deuteronomy could create the impression that the Torah of Deuteronomy emanates from Moses and not from the divinity itself, and therefore the statements are added that it is God who is speaking and commanding, not Moses.” – Moshe Weinfeld, Deuteronomy 1-11

Swing #3: “There is much eminence for you, and reward for your having dwelt at this mountain. You made the Tabernacle, Menorah, and [holy] implements; you received the Torah; you appointed sanhedrin for yourselves, [composed of] leaders of thousands and leaders of hundreds.” – Sifrei

Late-Inning Questions: According to our commentators, what is the agenda of Moses’ statement at the beginning of his soliloquy? To what extent is it to speak well of the Israelites, and to what extent is it to bring glory to God? To what extent must our words accomplish both of those goals?

On-Deck at Emanu-El: Please join us as Emanu-El observes Tisha B’Av, the saddest day of the Jewish calendar. Just as it is meritorious to celebrate the great achievements of the Jewish people, it also is important for us to remember the obstacles and setbacks that helped to make our achievements all the more glorious. Services will take place Monday at 8:00PM, Tuesday at 7:00AM, and Tuesday at 8:00PM (there will not be 5:30PM minyan on Tuesday).

The Big Inning at the End: “Life will always throw you curves, just keep fouling them off … the right pitch will come, but when it does, be prepared to run the bases.” – Rick Maksian

Shabbat Shalom!