By Rabbi Ariel Abel
Seventy lines of prose comprise the song, which is the main focus of this week’s reading. Moses asks the heavens and earth to listen in on behalf of God who informs them His word is reflected in the dew which crowns earthly vegetation. This teaches the importance of loyalty to the covenant, as heavenly blessing refreshes the terrestrial only if the word of God is respected.
Other important lessons in this song include recognising God’s work on earth and perfect, even when it seems flawed. At funerals, the sense of loss is pondered through the verse which declares that all His ways are just, a God of Faith is He, righteous and upright.
By contrast, humanity cannot be relied upon to be faithful. For this reason, one’s faith in God and practice of religion should not depend or be modelled by another human being – we are all fallible. Only God Himself should be the object of our aspirations.
We cannot be eternal, but we can follow Him and behave according to the example he sets in mercy and has commanded us in the Torah.
Another important focus is to educate oneself inhistory. Ask you parent, he will tell you, your grandparent, he will relate to you. Learning from the past is an ethic to which we should aspire.
This ethic informs our understanding of how the entire world belongs to God, and it is He, the God of history and the origin of prophecy, and not international political opinion, which should control our destiny and tell us whether or not we should live in the Holy Land.
God’s protection of his people is likened in this latter song of Moses to the people to an eagle which bears its young aloft in the high skies.
The outstanding record of our people surviving against all the odds is testimony to this protection. We are forever grateful to God that we now have a country we can call our own homeland, by His grace only and in spite of all the human opposition stacked against it, since the day that Israeli independence was declared.
The final words of the reading speak of Moses viewing of the land that he could never enter.
This was a sad day for our great leader, but one which reminds us how grateful we ought to be for our free access to the land of his dreams.