Va'Etchanan and Shabbat Nachamu – A thought for the week by Mike Lewis
At the start of the reading this week Moses implores God to allow him to enter the land. The very word Va Etchanan translates as “plead”. Surprisingly at this Shabbat, (which is Shabbat Nachamu, the Shabbat of Consolation), the reply is:
It is enough for you; speak to Me no more regarding this matter
Moses sets out the second of his farewell speeches. He reviews the going out of Egypt and the giving of the Torah. We are reminded of our unique role:
Did ever a people hear God's voice speaking out of the midst of the fire as you have heard, and live?
Moses prophesies, that we, as a people, will turn away from God, be exiled but then return. The Ten Commandments are repeated, and we hear the Shema. We would always have a core message that would bring us back.
We had not been chosen as a great and mighty people but as a people whom God chose to follow his statutes and commandments and to whom a promise had been made.
The Lord did not set His affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you are the fewest of all peoples
The Seder service is anticipated. When the wise son asks a question, we hear, in the words of this parasha:
מָ֣ה הָֽעֵדֹ֗ת וְהַֽחֻקִּים֙ וְהַמִּשְׁפָּטִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר צִוָּ֛ה יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵ֖ינוּ אֶתְכֶֽם:
What are the testimonies, the statutes, and the ordinances, which the Lord our God has commanded you?
We wander and drift in our lives but there is always a thread to reconnect us. It is not so much where we wander but where we end up that is important. Doing good and remembering who we are is our thread. Hopefully, we can eventually return to Shul and together repeat the words of this Parasha as the Torah is lifted up:
וְאַתֶּם֙ הַדְּבֵקִ֔ים בַּֽיהֹוָ֖ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶ֑ם חַיִּ֥ים כֻּלְּכֶ֖ם הַיּֽוֹם:
But you who cleave to the Lord your God are alive, all of you, this day.