Word for the Herd: Torah from your favorite teacher
We've started the last book of the Torah this week, Devarim or Deuteronomy. Devarim דְּבָרִים means spoken things. Deuteronomy means the second law, and it's because in this book Moshe repeats the 10 Commandments to the C-O-I. But this book of spoken things starts off with a very dark cloud hanging. The C-O-I aren't rejoicing after being freed from slavery. Oh no. A lot of time has passed.
Moshe is is old and dying. Moshe knows he has to step down from being the leader and will never enter the promised holy land. Beyond that, he's been dealing with whinny complaining disobedient people. THE C-O-I have already faced fighting and are about to embark on several battles with their neighbors. Their trials of the desert and wilderness are just evolving, but not disappearing. And Moshe knows that these people are still barely a united front.
There's a lot to focus on here. Why are we going to have a repeat of the same laws? What will get the C-O-I thru this hard transition? How will they make it without Moshe?
Earlier in the portion Moshe calls up to his people and says:
12. How can I bear your trouble, your burden, and your strife all by myself? יב. אֵיכָה אֶשָּׂא לְבַדִּי טָרְחֲכֶם וּמַשַּׂאֲכֶם וְרִיבְכֶם:
It is heart breaking to hear that Moshe feels so troubled and burdened by the C-O-I. They are so disobedient, so hard on him as a leader and perhaps have caused him to miss out on ever getting into Canaan. We see that Moshe feels alone. And if Moshe, the leader and confidant to G-d himself isn't feeling taken care of, how can we expect the Israelites to feel good and comfortable. It sounds like Moshe isn't only frustrated, he's scared and alone. He has to go on to continue to describe all the battles that they will encounter and his feeling of being LEVAD, alone is palpable.
The text I put at the top of this entry is really the point of what we have to keep in mind as a mantra. When the going gets tough we have to remind ourselves we are in it together. And beyond that, we are protected from above. Essentially the message is "Do not be afraid because God is fighting for us, along side us."
The way we approach our fears when we move on to a new chapter in life (Middle School/HighSchool/College/Work)..... the way we open a chapter of a book... they are all related. We all have to go through hard times as Jewish People; as a nation that constantly faces persecution or hardships, knowing the hardships will only continue to come can get overwhelming. It is hard not to have anxiety about the unknown, the changes that lie ahead, and ultimately the threats in the world. For the C-O-I it was battle, and for Israelis not much has changed. There is a brutal war going on with soldiers dying every day. What is the cure for fear? Knowing that G-d is by your side.
But for us Jews in America, our fears and worries are about ourselves. I think we are weaker than Israelis--- we don't know how to fight our enemies... .The fear to fight... The fear to start.... And the fear to fail. We all have fear. May Hashem guide us on the battle fields, wherever we find them.