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Va’etchanan (And I Pleaded) D’varim (Deut) 3:23-7:11

Torah Portion:  Va’etchanan (And I Pleaded) D’varim (Deut) 3:23-7:11

Haftorah Reading: Isaiah 40:1-26

This week we read one of the most heart wrenching segments of scripture in the Torah. This portion begins with the words of Moshe, “And I pleaded.” We know the story, Moshe stood on the brink of his life’s dream. He stood on the bank of the Jordan as he prepared the people to cross over into the Promised Land. Something he has prepared for for over 40 years. Yet, as he pleads to cross over G-d answers him that he will not go over but will soon die. Not only that but he must prepare and encourage another for the job of taking over his role and lead the people. What was Moshe’s response after hearing these words? Did he argue with G-d? Did he sulk, get angry, stop speaking to G-d?  In his response I think we can learn much that will help us in our own life.

 

How do we respond to disappointments in our life? How do we respond to G-d’s correction in our life? I think in each of these we have a choice to make and our future can hang on it. First, on the most basic level the lesson is, life is not a game. G-d has a plan for each of us. Our days are not a random sequence of events but are filled with people, events and challenges for each of us as G-d’s people. Here in Moshe’s life we see him coming face to face with the consequences of his choice when he stood before the rock and struck it with his staff rather than speak to it as G-d instructed him.  G-d’s will stands before us each day, what do we do with the day? Do we seek Him and His way or do we walk after our own heart, our own desire? This is the question. How do we make the right choices each day? It takes work on our part. It takes striving toward more each day, knowing Him deeper, choosing to go to more spiritual depths than the day before. As we gain wisdom we will be able to understand His, “No, “ to those things we thought we just had to have and could not live without. His will each day must become our hearts desire. We begin to know that by spending time with Him, reading, praying, and seeking Him.  Life has consequences. For sure G-d can and does forgive us when we sin, when we miss the mark. However, like King David, our actions still have consequences in our life.

I was reading an article this week that brought a great deal of insight into things that are challenges to us. Say you are a believer and you are faithful with your tithe every month. You always are there with your tithe. It is not easy and you don’t have much money to spare but you are committed to tithing because you want to be obedient to G-d’s word. Then one week when your time to give your tithe rolls around, at the same time your car breaks down. You are faced with one of those choices. What do you do? Do you fix the car or do you give your tithe to G-d? You do not have the cash to do both. Do you get irritated with G-d? Do you complain to Him saying, “You know I am faithful in tithing why did you let my car break down when you know I don’t have the money to fix it? I am faithful to you why are you not being faithful to me?” In this Torah portion we find a verse that might help us in times like this.  We find in Deut. 6:4, “You shall love G-d, your G-d with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.” We can read this and agree with it completely until we read the last phrase, with all your might. What does that mean? I think we have talked about this before but I would like to refresh us. This phrase means with your everything. Nothing should hinder our love for our G-d and doing His will. That means all our choices must be made to glorify Him. Our life is His. Our problems and worries are His. This should guide our lives each day. G-d has brought each of us a long way. He has and will always love us and because of who we are in Him our daily goal should be to do His will.

One last point I believe will fit into this picture of our lives and what G-d requires of us. In Deut. 6:18 we read that we are to do what is right and good in the sight of the L-rd. My last question this week was what is the difference in “right” and “good.” There are two Hebrew words that might help us. One is mayduyek (right) which means someone who does exactly what is required and keeps all the rules. The other, “mayvater,” is someone who is forgiving in how they deal with people and situations. Applied to our verses we might say the person who does what is right without the good quality might be compared to the rich young ruler in the Messianic writings in Matthew 19:16-22. We all know the story. He was a mayduyek person in keeping the commandments but had a problem with the Mayvater half. Our life should be lived according to G-d’s word, however we also must be a person who is forgiving in our dealings with others, as G-d has been with us. G-d shows mercy and compassion to us or else none of us could stand. He requires our obedience but loves us and forgives us when we miss the mark. May we all live our lives doing what is right and good.