On the last Shabbat of this month, we will begin reading the last of the five Books of Moses, Deuteronomy or Devarim, which means words. We have arrived at the brink of the Jordan River and are ready to cross over into the Promised Land. Although Moses cannot enter with us, he takes the opportunity at this juncture to offer his Final Discourses, a review of our wanderings throughout the last forty years.
Moses recounts our successes and our lapses, attempting to instruct us in the ways to live our new lives in our new home. He rebukes us for having murmured against G-d in the wilderness, criticized the manna delivered to us throughout the journey and for having forsaken G-d in the building of the Golden Calf. Moses recounts our rebellions and repentance and illustrates the consequences of each.
It has been said that “when one door closes, another one opens.” As the Book of Numbers closes, Deuteronomy opens and our wanderings have all but ceased, while the beginning of our lives in the Promised Land is about to begin.
Many of us have been wandering, emotionally, psychologically, financially, socially lost for over three months now. One quarter of a year has closed behind us, but what doors might have opened? And what doors may yet invite us inside?
Some of us have reconnected with old friends during our lockdown, while others have developed new hobbies or returned to old ones that had gotten lost amidst life’s chaos. Some of us have begun cooking at home more, while others found ways to work remotely that may be sustained even after the current pandemic is behind us. And others of us recognized just how beautiful we really are without trips to the hair salon, barbershop, nail salon or gym.
The Israelites wandered for forty years; we might have several more months ahead of us. Our forefathers and foremothers had Moses to instruct us in how life might be after the journey; we may have to figure this out for ourselves.
On a plane, when we get close to our destination, we are told to put our tray tables away and to straighten our seat-backs. What are you doing to prepare for arrival and what will life look like when you reach your Promised Land?