A Drash for Eikev 5766
by Marc Mangel
Shalch: Commandments 428-435. Especially noteworthy:
430 — Grace after meals (Ch 8, v 10)
431—Love the convert (Ch 10, v19)
435 – Engage in Prayer (Service of the Heart) (Ch 11, v 13)
Sheila Weinberg (Amherst, MA) wrote in a festschrift for Zalman “Jewish spirituality flows from memory”
Question – how do we effectively remember things that we have not experienced?
Focus on Ch2, v2-4 [Read them]
Most commentators focus on the lesson of the manna.e.g. that nature alone could not be relied upon for food. Rashi – the test is in whether people could honor the instructions associated with the manna. No interpretations of the trial in Exodus – only 40 years later in Moshe’s discourse.
R. Tobias Roth [modern Orthodox] The interpretation of manna could come only after the entire sequence in the desert was played.
But I want to focus on v 2: Kol HaDerech [ask people for the translations in their Chumash]
What is intended here by “Kol”
R J. Ozarowski [also Modern Orthodox] building on R. David Hoffman [head of Berlin’s pre-Shoach Hildesheimer Yeshiva]
Moshe may be giving them a discourse in history, not for the sake of the history, but for the lessons learned from the desert experience (e.g. the desert teaches us what is essential for life and what is not)
Moshe is not telling them to remember ‘all the details’ but ‘all the way’ – what they learned from the way. The memories of the trip are fuzzy, but the lessons must be remembered ‘all the way’ in order to understand where they are today.
Roth again: “ If history has taught us anything, it is that interpretations right after an event will be minimally true at best. Once we understand and accept that only time will confirm an interpretation with which we wish to color an event, is there anything we can say with certainty?
“Only the conclusion that Moshe reacher after explaining the manna ‘Remember the Lord your God, for he is the one who gives you strength”
Me — So it is for us American Jews, shaped by Shtetl (pre 1920), Shoah (1939-1945), Birth of Israel (1948), Six Day War (1967), The Yom Kippur War(1973) — the details are fuzzy (if remembered at all), but understanding these events of the previous one, two or three generations is absolutely essential for helping us understand how we got to where we are today and where we are going in the future.
There is a very interesting implication of this idea of “Kol HaDerech”, especially given what is happening in Northern Israel and Lebanon right now. How can we feel empowered?
Write to our politicians
Give money to Jewish aid agencies
No matter how much you know, learn more about the history of the situation – not so that you can argue the case for Israel (which we all must be able to do) but so that you can comprehend the lessons of the past all the way.