We’re reading parshas Eikev this week, and I was reminded a little of my youth in Troop 806. I generally tried to pay attention to whatever talking was going on in my direction: announcements (ugh), instructions, classes, stories, et cetera. There’d often be questions for clarifying details, missing details, confirming details, details, details, details…
Now, I know nobody today would ever do something like this, but I would sometimes ask about details that really weren’t important at the moment. For example…
Person in charge: “We’re doing an activity at So-and-so Park in 2 weeks.”
Jordan: “Who was So-and-so?”
Troop Guide: “Now add whatever seasonings you like. I use garlic powder, salt, and pepper. It’s simple and delicious.”
Jordan: “Does it make a difference whether you put spices on the meat or just in the water for a stew?”
Troop Guide: “I don’t think the order matters in stew, but right now we’re making hamburgers.”
Was I being difficult? Perhaps. Did I mean to be? Not always. I had genuine questions that may not have been bad; they were just not too helpful at the moment. I had gotten a little off track.
While that off-topic information is generally important (Scouts need to learn to cook lots of things), it’s a little more urgent to remember what you’re trying to do. Moshe spends a lot of the parsha reviewing many details of mistakes that were made and things that are going to happen in the future. He covers a lot of ground while speaking, but then, at the beginning of the 5th aliyah, he makes sure I’m still on track.
“And now, Israel, what does Hashem, Your God, want from you? To fear Hashem, Your God; to go in all His ways and to love Him and to serve Hashem, Your God, with your whole hear and your whole soul. To guard the commandments of Hashem and His laws that I command you today for your good.”
“And now” Moshe begins. NOW. Moshe saw me standing there with a thousand questions about the second Tablets that he carved. How did he carve them? What tools did he use? What were they made of? Did he measure? Did Hashem give him measurements or a pattern to follow? Why didn’t Hashem just make these Himself? Did Hashem inscribe all the letters at once or one at a time? Did Hashem create the first ones already inscribed or make solid tablets and then inscribe them? Not to mention why? Each question gets a “Why?” to go with it!
The problem is that right now, I need information like what type of meat, how much, what seasonings, how much, how to use a stove, how to build a fire, how long to leave the meat cooking. Why? We’re hungry! Some day I will need to know how to make stew. Also, it would be good to know what So-and-so did to get a park named after him.
So, Moshe answers me, “Jordan, these are good questions. Spend the rest of your life finding the answers and then asking more questions. However, never forget that the point is to fear, follow, love, and serve Hashem, Your God. The fact that Hashem had me carve the Tablets this time does have something important to teach you. That information WILL help you with our lifelong goal, but right now, we’re making hamburgers.”
Assistant Scoutmaster, Troop 806