This week’s portion, just a single chapter, prepares us for the end of Torah, the death of Moses and again speaks to the transition of power from Moses to Joshua. Moses begins this chapter with a verse that speaks to us. “I am now 120 years old and can no longer be active (to go out and come in)” (31:2)
Moses accepts the fact that he is no longer able to be active, the his “new normal” has physical limitations. Note by the way, that his mind remains sharp and we will meet this again in the final chapters of Torah. We know people who fit this description. Our physical challenges may impose limitations on our abilities to be active, but that does not mean that we stop growing and learning and being involved with life.
Twerski, in his “Living Each Week”, takes a look at this verse in light of a message, or challenge to us, to never stop growing spiritually, even as death come closer. He challenges us not to remain “spiritually stagnant “. I think this is very important for us, as we age, to be reminded that no matter where we are in life’s journey, the ability to be open to expand our own spiritual footprint is always there.
This portion is read on Shabbat T’shuvah, the Shabbat that forms a bridge between Rosh Hoshonnah and Yom Kippur. We are reminded of the invitation to “turn” our souls to the sacred, to seek spiritual engagement and to explore what we mean to be in relationship with God–not matter how we define that term. Our tradition offers us the freedom to continually challenge the spiritual status quo that many of us find ourselves living. Stagnation, physical, emotional or spiritual, leads to death of the spirit, soul and, often, body. This is the season to accept the invitation to be challenged and to challenge our own souls to seek the spiritual in life…..as the gates begin to close!
Rabbi Richard F Address
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.