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The Footwork Is Up To Us

August 8, 2009

This week’s Torah portion is Eikev (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25). Maybe I am just tired and maybe it is actually confusing, but I found myself unable to find a focal point other than the one I will get to in a moment. The theme that struck me seemed too simple in the midst of all the erudite commentary I read. This portion is the closing scene of the people’s exile in the desert. They are about to cross the Jordan and enter the promised land; enter into war to claim it. Moses is giving what has been described as the rest of his closing speech to the people; we know he will not cross over Jordan but will die in the desert because it was his generation that rebelled against G-d and was exiled to 40 years in the desert. Moses recounts the history of all that the people have endured, the hardships and slavery. Moses exhorts the people not to forget that G-d has brought them to this moment and this place, about to finally have what was promised; a land of their own and the wealth it encompasses. It is Moses’ fear that self-importance and arrogance will lead the people away from the commandments, the good deeds that make life worth living. So this portion is filled with crashing oratory, the story of the golden calf and the smashing of the tablets of the commandments. It is also filled with a recounting of all that G-d commands the people to do, how they are to live. And it is filled with the premonition of violence and the people being urged forward to war. It is a complicated portion and every single commentary I read focused on something different. What came through, in the end for me, is that this portion is simply about G-d’s love for us and our love for G-d. G-d brings us to time and place and what we do with it is up to us. The people were protected through all their tribulations and travels, they were give the gift of the commandments (yes he let Moses write them down again) and rules (all 600 plus) so they could know how to live, know what was good and right. That is how G-d showing love for us. How we show our love in return is to do our best to use those rules to try to live in the good, in the right. G-d brings us to time and place, but how we live is up to us. G-d loves us just as we are, the footwork of living is up to us.

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