In this week’s parasha, Va’Eschanan, Moses continues his review of events that happened in the Wilderness as part of the Exodus from Egypt.
Recall God had forbidden Moses to enter the Land of Israel, because he had not followed God’s instructions in asking for water from a rock in the Wilderness of Zin. Even though Moses is aware he has been forbidden to enter Israel, he so loves the land and wants to see it that he asks if he may cross the Jordan River and enter the land. God becomes angry with Moses, and tells him “Do not speak to Me of this matter again.”
Moses then goes back to reviewing the laws the Israelites are to obey when they enter the land. Among those are two very important sets of law we know well: the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 5:6-18) and the opening sentence and first paragraph of the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4, and 5-9).
There is even a commandment about teaching one’s children – we recite it every year at the Passover Seder:
When, in time to come, your children ask you, “What mean the decrees, laws, and rules that the Lord our God has enjoined upon you?” You shall say to your children, “We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt and the Lord freed us from Egypt with a mighty hand. The Lord wrought before our eyes marvelous and destructive signs and portents in Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his household; and us He freed from there, that He might take us and give us the land that He had promised on oath to our fathers. Then the Lord commanded us to observe all these laws, to revere the Lord our God, for our lasting good and for our survival, as is now the case. It will be therefore to our merit before the Lord our God to observe faithfully this whole Instruction, as He has commanded us.” (Deuteronomy 6:20-25) [Translation by Sefaria.org]
Now, if it was not a good idea for Moses to anger his Heavenly Father, we don’t want to do anything to anger our early fathers – or mothers or grandparents or other adults we live with – by asking a trick question, like “What are the laws God enjoined upon you?” But you will impress them by pointing out this passage as a way, here in August, we can Be Prepared for next spring’s Passover!
Just don’t mention anything about cleaning out the chometz.