Eikev (August 20, 2011)
(2) Remember the long way that the LORD your God has made you travel in the wilderness these past forty years, that He might test you by hardships to learn what was in your hearts: whether you would keep His commandments or not. (3) He subjected you to the hardship of hunger and then gave you manna to eat, which neither you nor your fathers had ever known, in order to teach you that man does not live on bread alone, but that man may live on anything that the LORD decrees. (4) The clothes upon you did not wear out, nor did your feet swell these forty years. (5) Bear in mind that the LORD your God disciplines you just as a man disciplines his son. (6) Therefore keep the commandments of the LORD your God: walk in His ways and revere Him.
Excerpted from The Torah: A Modern Commentary, Revised Edition, editor W. Gunther Plaut (NY: URJ Press, 2005). Used by permission of URJ Press, www.urjbooksandmusic.com.
Elizabeth F. Stabler,
I did have to smile quietly to myself when Moses insisted that one of God’s miracles was that the clothes on our backs did not wear out. I suppose Moses never noticed the women at their spinning, weaving and sewing. Didn’t he realize that there are always new babies being born and children growing out of clothes, not to mention tearing them on the sharp rocks and thorny bushes in the desert? Perhaps the real miracle is that the women managed to clothe their families during the trek through the wilderness.
“Elisheva,” he said one day, “make sure the children learn about the signs and wonders that God performed for us in Egypt and how God brought us through the Reed Sea as the armies of the Pharoah chased us.” The next day he told me to include all the details of our forty-year journey through the arid desert with only God’s manna to eat. Then, another day he reminded me to include the stories of the broken tablets and the golden calf and even the account of the earth’s opening up and swallowing the rebels Dathan and Abiram. We are making certain that everything that happened is remembered by the generation that never saw the pyramids. And, I make the stories so vivid that they, in turn, will tell them to their children.
I am old now and cannot do much more than tell our stories and teach them our special words of praise to God. The children and young girls wait for me in mornings outside my tent. They have come to hear and learn. The older boys and young men visit me in the late afternoon and evening to learn our history and prayers. Their days are taken up by military lessons and exercises as they will have to fight for the land God has promised us. Moses is overseeing their training. When he was a prince in Egypt he learned about warfare.
I am sorry that Aaron will not be with us to cross into Canaan. I miss my dear husband terribly and I know Moses misses his brother, too. God took him and all the people mourned thirty days for him. Eleazar, our son, is now the high priest.
This morning, Moses joined me as I was teaching the children the prayer he asked everyone to learn. He loves to listen to the children repeat the verses which remind us of the covenant we have with God. God has asked that we revere, love and worship God and observe the commandments God gave us as the people who agreed to accept the conditions of God’s covenant. The verses we repeat every day includes a few examples of what might happen when people do not obey the commandments. Children understand more clearly when there are consequences for disobedience. The children were awed when Moses joined in for the last few lines, “Therefore impress these My Words upon your very heart: bind them as a sign on your hand and let them serve as a symbol on your forehead, and teach them to your children — reciting them when you stay at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up; and inscribe them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates – to the end that your and your children may endure, in the land the the Lord swore to your fathers to give to them, as long as there is a heaven over the earth.” [Deut.11:18-21].
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