Caring and Oversharing: Vayelekh 2022

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: How badly do you wish you knew what other people say about you when you aren’t around? If you had one superpower, would that be the one you’d choose?

Moses doesn’t necessarily worry about this, but he is concerned about what the people will do to God once he is no longer alive:

The Pitch: “Well I know how defiant and stiff-necked you are: even now, while I am still alive in your midst, you have been defiant toward the Lord; how much more, then, when I am dead!” – Deuteronomy 31:27

Swing #1: “As for [Moses’s] death, he refers to it only in the context of a melancholy comment on the people’s rebelliousness. He has, it seems, the darkest expectations of their future ‘after my death.’ The meaning of his death, then, is limited, in his account, to its presumed effect on their future history. But, for obvious reasons, he cannot include the experience of his own death in his final narrative.” – Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, Moses: A Human Life

Swing #2: “The emphatic ‘anokhi, ‘I myself,’ before the conjugated verb has autobiographical resonance for the speaker Moses, who through forty years has had to cope with the refractory nature of the people and to be the repeated target of their resentment.” – Robert Alter, The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary

Swing #3: “This again reminds us of what the [Babylonian] Talmud stated in Berachot 18 that the righteous are called alive even after their bodies have died. When Moses mentions the words: ‘here when I am still alive amongst you,’ he did not imply that he would soon die, but that he would live in a different region of the universe, one which could not be described as עמכם, ‘amongst you.’” – Or HaChaim

Late-Inning Questions: Why would Moses express such deep resignation that the people will defy God after his death? Does he hope to get the people to change their ways at the last moment? Or is he just letting some frustration off his chest? Is oversharing always overdoing it?

On-Deck at TBT: I wish all of you a g’mar hatimah tovah – a good conclusion to the High Holidays, and an easy fast on Yom Kippur.

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of oversharing, Ozzie Guillen was an excellent Major League manager who eventually lost his job with the Miami Marlins for saying sympathetic words about Fidel Castro, angering South Florida’s Cuban population. It’s yet another example of the public saying they appreciate it when someone “tells it like it is” while simultaneously being unable to cope when it deems that that person has crossed a line.

Shabbat Shalom!