O holy Shabbes Inspiration Va-et-cha-nan
The most famous passage this week
Shema Yisrael [Deut. 6:4]
Listen up Israel
translated in its several possibilities
God is one
God alone [Rashbam and Ibn Ezra]
God the one and only
God integrated and unified [Moshe Cordovero]
the seamless embrace of Existence
O holy God help me understand —
Just let me know it
Eid – be a witness
let me climb up that large ayin
slide down the big dalet
let me know it, let me be a witness to the seamless –
or let me turn it around in dyslexia
plow the language like a palindrome
Da’ – let me climb the Hebrew running right to left
let me jump it back left to right
let all directions fold into the ascent of the letters
Da’ – let me know
Shabbes Nachamu this
the first of seven Shabbosim of Consolation
I need it because I am recovering from the sadness
in the three weeks
three weeks I sat in sadness
seven weeks I am taking to recover.
Listen O Israel
everything is going to start getting better now.
but we are into the ascent.
in this portion my favorite Rashi, on
Behold, I have taught you rules and laws,
as God has commanded me
that you should keep them,
in the land to which you are coming to possess.
You shall observe them and do them. [Deuteronomy 4:5-6]
Here’s the Rashi:
Observe them – this is Mishnah.
And do them: as it implies.
You want rules don’t you —
you want clarity and simplicity don’t you —
you want perpendicularity don’t you —
you want the rules and laws.
Observe them – these are the rules and laws.
Do them – these are the implications.
The laws are clear
the implications complex.
It’s life — it’s messy.
It’s the beginning of the portion I turn to now
sends me running for the book.
translate: I entreated, I pleaded
I implored God at that time,
this is Moses speaking
about the great frustration of his life
let me now cross and see the good land
that is on the other side of the Jordan. . . [Deuteronomy 3:24-25]
What we need to know from this word —
what’s the intention
what’s his attitude
what’s the feeling in this word?
Is it a request?
Is it a please —
is it an entitlement —
HEY – LET ME IN THAT LAND
I deserve it.
No. Not that – this is clear from the Rashi.
Rashi says the word denotes an undeserved free gift
this is Rashi’s first comment
his second comment is that this word
is one of ten words signifying prayer
here Rashi is quoting the midrash [Deut. R. 2:1]
but feel the sadness in this comment.
Moses is praying with humility
to enter the Land
please please please
it’s a prayer asking for an undeserved favor
because holy ones never ask with any other kind of attitude.
I want it but I’m not entitled. [Rashi on Deut. 3:23]
The teaching comes to us from Rabbi Yochanan
there are ten words for prayer:
shavah, zeakah, neakah
rinnah, pegiah, bitzur
keriah, nippul, pillul
Of the ten expressions Moses might have used
Moses uses the last
the language of tachanunim
the language of humility
grace – an undeserved request
this is how the righteous make their asks
no one has any claim on God.
Moses was thinking
— all the wonderful things he had done in his youth.
In those days I was King of the World
now I’m a beggar for my life.
The angels came and snatched Moses’ words away
so that God wouldn’t know
God loved Moses like a mother
and always knew when something was wrong.
God came to Moses and said
It isn’t written that you should enter the Land.
It was decreed before I created the World
and yours is not to ask why. It just is.
it’s time for Joshua to take over. [Deut. 3:28]
•See Exodus 2:23, Exodus 2:24, Jeremiah 7:16,
Psalm 18:7, Deuteronomy 9:18, Psalm 106:30,
and this verse, Deuteronomy 3:23.