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I Forgot to Tell You!

07/20/2023 03:28:43 PM


“Oh I forgot to tell you….”
“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
“I just remembered now!”

During my pre-college gap program in Israel, I was on a hike in the northern part of the country. I received the unfortunate news of my grandfather’s passing and had to cut my northern trip short in order to come home for the funeral. Knowing I wouldn’t have time to return to my dorm in Jerusalem to get nicer clothing and anything else I might need for a long flight, I had to get to the airport with whatever stuff I had with me at the time. It wasn’t until a few hours before the flight that it dawned on me that even though I could just go with the stuff I had with me on my hike, I also needed my passport! “I only remembered now! Sorry I didn’t think about it sooner!”

We begin this week the Book of Deuteronomy, which is Greek for “second/repeated law.” This is a great name for a book that essentially is a long speech from Moses recounting everything that befell the Israelites since their exodus from Egypt. Moses will recount the sin of the spies, the giving of the Ten Commandments, and many of the civil and moral laws that we saw elsewhere in the Torah. But, interestingly, there are a few things that are new! For example, the laws of leverite marriage, divorce, and testifying falsely are only presented now in the Book of Deuteronomy, and not elsewhere in the Torah. Didn’t Moses get these laws on Mount Sinai? What else might he have forgotten to mention to us, and why is he only mentioning it now?

Nahmanides suggests that one reason might be that these laws weren’t practiced until the Israelites entered and settled the Land of Israel. Or more practically, he suggests that perhaps they weren’t everyday occurrences. Just like my forgetting my passport until the last minute, perhaps even though there were forty years of wandering in the wilderness, it only has come up as they are on the precipice of entering the promised land. Thus, Moses’ retelling and review of their experiences in the wilderness is quite productive as he can reflect on what transpired and explain the pieces he might still yet need to explain.

Perhaps we too can benefit from the productive exercise of reflection and review. If we can revisit the moments of our days, months, or even years, perhaps we can return back to important thoughts and actions that fell off our radars. After all, it helped me remember to bring my passport. But what else might I have forgotten on that trip? What else might we be forgetting to do or say? Let’s take the time to retell our stories and figure it out.

Shabbat Shalom

Sat, May 25 2024 17 Iyyar 5784