Monday, July 23, 2012

Lookin’ Back

Shabbat Dvarim (Shabbat Chazon)
Dvarim 1:1 – 3:22
7 Av 5772 / July 27-28, 2012

Lookin’ Back
by Tslil Shtulsaft, Moishe House Boston 
Parashat Dvarim, the opening of the fifth and final book of the Torah, sets the stage for the Israelites final moments before entering the Promised Land. The parasha features Moses giving a seemingly long winded narrative to the Israelite nation about past battles, nations, people and moments from the past 40 years. His words are a farewell speech to the Jews before they are to enter the Promised Land under Joshua's leadership. As it turns out, the entire book of Dvarim is an opportunity for Moses to re-tell this story.

In reading the parasha, it struck me as odd that Moses, the epitome of leadership within the Jewish tradition, would be so self-indulgent as to ramble to his people about past events, many of which seem insignificant. Could it be as simple as an aging leader grasping for one final moment in the sun before being removed from power forever? What is the lesson behind his story?

In reflecting, I realized that Moses was doing just that. He was reflecting, and in this process, was teaching. Moses was intentionally passing down knowledge and lessons learned for the benefit of the Israelite nation. He was acutely aware of his audience, a new generation of Israelites who had not been present during the exodus from Egypt, who had never felt the pain of slavery. Moses's history lesson was a deliberate effort to remind, caution and inspire the future of the Israelite nation.

After reflecting upon my own experience at Moishe House, I began to draw parallels between my current situation and the one that Moses found himself in thousands of years ago. In September, I will no longer be living in the Boston Moishe Kavod House. During the next few weeks I will begin a transition period, one that begins to welcome new housemates, and with High Holidays approaching, an injection of new Moishe House participants. As Moishe House residents and leaders of our respective communities, it is up to us to pass along institutional knowledge and best practices to help prepare the next wave of the Moishe House community. Like Moses, we must be strategic in the story that we tell, and above all, trust that those leaders and community members who follow in our footsteps will help to further pave the path that we've created.


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