The second portion of Deuteronomy brings us the Sh’ma and the V’ahavta as well as a third recitation of the 10 Commandments. It is a powerful portion. Yet, a look at the very beginning of the portion reminds us of the very human character of Moses. The portion (3:23) begins with recounting his plea to God to cross over to Canaan, to fulfill his mission. He knows he is going to die, he has ceded leadership to Joshua, but he still hopes! God’s answer in 3:26 puts an end ot this. “Enough. Never speak to me again of this” Now Moses, in very human ways, in 3:26 blames the people for his misfortune. He will do this again later on in the portion. But God’s response is final. We are done discussing this.
In a discussion on this a few days ago, a Torah study group played with this word and concept in light of our own aging.When it is “enough”? When do we say that we have reached a stage in life that we can let go of past hurts or issues or relationships that hold us back or bind us to the past? Indeed, the commentaries on the final commandment about not coveting speak tot he issue of envy and jealousy. Some of us carry issues of the past with us into this third life stage. Yet, perhaps the Torah is telling us that we need to say, in certain contexts. “enough”. This can be liberating. It may be the key to move ahead in out own life, to seek new meaning and create new purpose.
There are times in life when for our own health and peace, we need to say “enough”. Is this dialogue with Moses and God symbolic of much our own journey. After all, Moses is confronting his own mortality. He pleads to finish his mission. We know people who fear our own end, our own mortality, who fight to ward off the ultimate “enough”. And then there are people who, overwhelmed with pain and suffering, cry out “enough”.
This one little verse in this week’s portion can speak to so many issues in our own life. It reminds us that sometimes, in order to move on, we need to say “enough” of what holds us back. Transitions are rarely easy and, as we get older, carry with them a lifetime of baggage. The struggle to be “free” is never ending and the stakes in that struggle only get larger. Yet, again the Torah tells us that change is constant and for our own sake, there are times when “enough” is enough.
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.