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Just beware of forgetting and removing from your heart the things you have experienced… and (then) do what is evil in the eyes of G-d, provoking Him to wrath (4:9,25)
'For', says Moses, 'I am about to die; I will not be crossing the Jordan' (4:22). The Ramban explains that since G-d had forbidden Moses to accompany the Israelites to the Promised Land, he would not be able to guide them in the future. Therefore he had to prepare them for life without him. That is why Moses was verbally chastising the Israelites just as they were about to enter the Holy Land.
Though Moses reminds the Israelites to avoid idolatry by recalling G-d's revelation to the Israelites at Mount Sinai, he emphasizes that they should remain loyal to His Teachings by recalling the servitude and exodus from slavery in Egypt: 'But G-d has taken you and brought you out of the iron crucible of Egypt…' (4:20)
Those who were in their teens at the times of the Exodus (c.f. Num. 14:29) would have recalled that personally. The Ha-Ktav V'Ha-Kabbala explains that the 'iron crucible' - the slavery in Egypt - was a crucial formative period for the Israelites. Without the rigors of Exile, they would not have been willing to accept the Torah which would discipline their natural and habitual desires.
The 'iron crucible' of Egypt may also be a key to a deeper form of observance. When Moses recalls the revelation at Mount Sinai, he is making an intellectual appeal to the Israelites to remain loyal to Him against the background of paganism in the land they were about to enter. Intellectual appeal does go some way, but it does not create the same personal bond as the feeling of love (c.f. Rashi to 6:5) and gratitude. Recalling the hopelessness of slavery and the series of acts of divine intervention creates the feelings of loyalty and appreciation that come from a positive wish to serve G-d, rather than being forced to serve Him and glumly complying.
The Rabbis bring the tradition that the Second Temple was destroyed because of people hating one another without cause. Fault-finding and groundless hatred are based on personal preferences and negative traits. But getting to know about the positive things those people do - and focusing on them creates the natural cure to such feelings - the love coming by getting to find out how society is indebted to those very people in numerous ways…
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Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.
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Also by Jacob Solomon:
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
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