This past weekend, I was honored to give a D’var Torah (sermon) in front of my fellow congregants at Beth David Synagogue. The week’s Torah portion covered some of Moses’ speech to the Tribes of Israel before they took possession of Eretz Yisrael. I took the opportunity to evaluate modern day Israel through the eyes of Moses.
What follows is an excerpt from my full remarks. I’ve spared you the re-hashing of the text, and just included my insights and thoughts.
The Repeating Themes
What stood out to me after several readings of the parsha were three repeating themes.
First, Moses hammers home the need to follow God’s word. Chapters 8, 9 and 11 all begin with Moses emphasizing adherence to the rules and laws that God passed down to the Jews. In fact, Moses uses the hard sell: “Bear in mind that the LORD your God disciplines you just as a man disciplines his son,” he says. Meaning that if we don’t act according to the rules God sets before us, we are to expect God’s punishment.
A second repeating theme is the covenant made between God and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Moses brings this up again and again to remind us that this is when God promised the Land of Israel to the Jews.
The third repeating theme is Moses’ criticism of the tribes of Israel. Moses call us a “stiffnecked people.” He recalls the many times that the Jews have refused to follow God’s laws, even after witnessing some of God’s miracles.
Through these repeating themes, Moses sets forth the charter for Jewish ownership of the land of Israel. In doing so, Moses creates Zionism.