I hope everyone had a meaningful Yom Kippur.
We tend to put a lot of importance on the “last” things we hear from people.
You may have spent weeks in class studying a subject, but when your teacher tells you there will be a test next week and says “be sure to study these topics” you listen very closely.
Your troop may have practiced certain skills for several weeks in preparation for a campout, but when your senior patrol leader gives you final instructions before a patrol competition, pay special attention.
A famous person may have written volumes and spoken thousands of words during his or her career, but we place extra meaning on the person’s “last words”.
This week, in Parasha Haazinu, we receive the last words of Moses. Next week, we will learn the last blessings that our great teacher gave the Children of Israel, but this week, we receive our his last thoughts about what he considered most important.
These last words are in the form of a song of 43 stanzas. I think the best summary are several sentences at the beginning (Deuteronomy 32:3-6):
When I call out the Name of the Lord, ascribe greatness to our God.
The Rock! Perfect is His work, for all His paths are justice; a God of faith without iniquity, righteous and fair is He.
Corruption is not His – the blemish is His children’s, a perverse and twisted generation.
Is it to the Lord that you do this, O vile and unwise people? Is he not your Father, your Master? Has he not created you and firmed you?
These stanzas introduce the theme of the song: God is perfect, righteous and fair. When the Children of Israel abandon the Torah and worship other gods or treat people wickedly, bad things happen. The Israelites must take responsibility for these consequences.
As the many-times-great grandchildren of the Children of Israel, we should pay special attention to Moses’ last words. The Torah teaches us to worship God and to be fair, kind and just as taught by the Torah God has given us. We are responsible for doing these things.
This theme is one we could well use as a guide in the coming year. I hope you follow Moses’ advice and have a year of good things.
Shana tova and Shabbat shalom!