The Book of Deuteronomy (“Devarim” in Hebrew) has always sounded to me like a parent putting their kid on the bus for summer camp. Just as parents use the last minutes before the bus pulls away to remind their kids of all the important lessons they ever learned (“Be nice to people!” “Share your toys!” “Remember to brush your teeth!”), so Moses uses Devarim to remind the Israelites of everything he taught them over the past 40 years.
Far be it from me to compare myself to Moses, but I have sent kids off to camp. And I, too, was one of the parents standing there and shouting last-minute reminders because… well, because that’s what parents do.
Over the past months I have been reflecting on our time together. Whether you joined the Rodeph Torah family recently, or we have walked a lot of our journeys together, I hope that you have learned from me anywhere near as much as I have learned from you. You are extraordinary teachers!
Now it is time for Devarim.
Between now and June, I will devote each sermon to one of the ideas I have shared with you over the past 35 years. I will begin on Rosh Hashanah when I remember my first dream for TRT, then continue on Yom Kippur when I speak about “Passion and Joy,” and about my commitment to alleviating hunger. And then, on most Friday evenings throughout the year, I will pick one idea which I feel passionate about and do my best to help you understand why it is so important to me.
For those of you who might look at a sermon topic and go, “Oy, that again?” I can only remind you that even Moses repeats The Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy! And yet, he does not repeat them exactly as they were the first time, which creates whole new levels of meaning. And for those of you who are newer to TRT, I hope this will serve to introduce you to some of the ideas which have motivated this community in years past.
The Schedule of Services in the October newsletter (newsletter.trt.org) will list the first of these sermons – all of which are live-streamed, if you are not able to be there in person. I not only invite you to join me on this journey, but I ask you to comment, question and disagree. Isn’t that what we Jews have always done, even with Moses?
I wish you a sweet, healthy and peaceful New Year. I look forward to celebrating it with you, and to sharing one more trip around the sun together.
Rabbi Don Weber, October 2019