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September 16, 2012 / conservadox

Dvar Torah- Vayeilich

I’m not going to write anything extra about Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur- partially because I don’t have anything brilliant to say, but partially because this week’s portion relates to the themes of those days.

While explaining that the Jews are going to sin and be punished in the future, God says to Moses “for I know their inclination” (Deut. 31:21).

Nachmanides explains: “if Israel had not sinned in the wilderness and the recognition of his temperament had not been actualized, it would have been inappropriate for [Moses] to testify against them [instead of saying that they woul be punished if they sinned] … But now, that their bad temperament and straying heart had became known to them as well, He told them all that would occur to them.”

My first thought was “Hey, wait a minute! Moses only knows about the generation of the wilderness, but that experience alone doesn’t tell him about what will happen in the future!  How does he know future generations will make the same mistakes.”

But then it occurred to me that maybe Nachmanides is trying to say that disastrous errors are part of human nature, and it took Moses a few decades of leadership to realize this.  By the end of his life Moses may not know which particular generation will self-destruct, but he figures that if there are going to be hundreds or thousands of Jewish generations in the Promised Land, sooner or later one will even if he doesn’t know which one.

How is this relevant to the High Holy Days?  Because the same appreciation of human nature that gave Moses the ability to see that future generations would sin tells us that we all make mistakes, and that the High Holy Days are our way of dealing with this reality.

May whoever is reading this have a meaningful and joyous Yom Tov season, and may you have a year free from disastrous error or (better yet) filled with health, peace and prosperity.

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