Sedra Shorts

Ideas and commentaries on the weekly Torah readings.

My Photo
Location: Bet Shemesh, Israel

I taught Tanach in Immanuel College, London and in Hartman, Jerusalem. I was also an ATID fellow for 2 years. At present, I work for the Lookstein Center for Jewish Education in the Diaspora, in Bar-Ilan University, Israel. The purpose of this blog is to provide "sedra-shorts", short interesting ideas on the weekly Torah reading. Please feel free to use them and to send me your comments.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Parshat Vezot Haberacha

Moshe's Humanity

When ancient Israel first heard the words "God created humanity in His image" (Bereshit 1:27), the encountered a novel idea. The ancient world believed that only their kings, the actual living embodiment of their gods, were by definition in their god's image.

Judaism democratized the concept. All humanity is in the image of God and no leader has any greater claim to godliness than the people that he serves.

This week's concluding chapter to the Torah states that "there was no other prophet who arose in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face" (Devarim 34:1). No person ever had or could ever have as great a relationship that Moshe had with God. Nevertheless, the Torah constantly testifies that Moshe was human. Indeed, just a few pesukim earlier, God reminded Moshe of his great error and resulting punishment: "I have let you see it (the land) with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there" (ibid 4).

At the same time, while the birth of Moshe was obscure (See Shemot Ch. 2), once he is about to strike Egypt with ten devastating plagues, the Torah changes track and examines Moshe's lineage, stressing his human birth and origins.

The Torah seems to be concerned humanity's inclination to idolize and even deify its leaders.

The rabbis explain that the reason why "no person knows the place of his (Moshe's) burial, unto this day" (Devarim 34:6), is so that Moshe's tomb would not become a shrine and center of worship: God must be the only source of worship.

Being human means being capable of error, but also means, being in the image of God. The fact that our heroes were humans who erred and yet rose to great heights, gives us inspiration, that we too, even though we have flaws and make mistakes, can yet aspire to improve and to prove worthy the title of being in the image of God.

Last year's Sedra Short on Parshat Vezot Haberacha entiled: "The Disappearance of Shimon" appears at

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home