This week’s Torah portion covers Deuteronomy 31:1 to 31:30. Although Moses is trying to be an encouragement, he is also a prophet and it is impossible for a prophet to be blindly naïve. Moses knows that once the people are in the land and they no longer have to rely on God for their daily sustenance, or to see them through battle, many will grow apathetic and fall away from the Lord. They will do whatever is right in their own eyes. As the next generations, they were not eyewitnesses to the plagues in Egypt, the moment at Sinai, the fiery cloud over the wilderness camp, or the daily manna.
However, two major things have been put in place to aid each generation in their faith walk: the Torah and the holy calendar. In this 31st chapter of Deuteronomy, we learn that before Moses died, he finished writing down the words of the covenant so that it could be “an eternal witness.”
God instituted the holy calendar as a way of safeguarding national moments for the Israelites to regularly remember and reenact their story, and also as a source for accounting for their sins. We are now officially entering in to those high holidays. From the evening of September 9 to September 11, Jews celebrated Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Rosh Hashana marks the anniversary of the creation of the world. Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement falls on September 19th, next Tuesday.