INSIGHT: The UPLIFTING Lesson
Do It Today, Don’t Delay
Do It Today, Don’t Delay
Moshe begins speaking about the Arei Miklat – The Cities of Refuge: Not something that you would expect here in Parshas VaEschanan.
Time for a Shazak Flashback to the last Parsha of the book of BaMidbar, Parshas Masei.
HaShem spoke to Moshe, “Speak to Bnei Yisrael and say to them, ‘Set aside six cities of refuge for those people who unintentionally kill another person. No doubt the relative of the dead person will seek revenge, so let these six cities be ‘safe zones’ where these killers will be protected.’”
Three of the cities were to be on the eastern side of the Jordan River, where the tribes of Reuven, Gad and half of Menashe lived. The other three were to be in the Land of Canaan.
There must be 6 Cities of Refuge. 6, not 3. So, it makes no sense for Moshe to set up the 3 Cities of Refuge on the other side of the Jordan River until Bnei Yisrael settle the land and set up the three remaining cities in Eretz Yisrael.
Moshe doesn’t think like that. He grabs every Mitzvah opportunity that comes his way. “I know, it’s not me, but Yehoshua who will make the Arei Miklat work, but it’s a Mitzvah that I have a chance to do, so I’ll do it now!”
Indeed, Moshe went ahead and set up the Arei Miklat on “the other side of the Jordan.”
“Please, we need signs, plenty of Miklat signs, showing the way to the Arei Miklat. Here’s where I want you to put them…”
Moshe was quite busy directing the “Miklat Project,” and Bnei Yisrael learned a vital lesson from Moshe Rabbeinu – the master educator. Bnei Yisrael understood. Grab a Mitzvah at the very first opportunity!
Surprisingly, right after the Arei Miklat Episode, we read this all-familiar verse in the Torah:
וזאת התורה אשר שם משה לפני בני ישראל
“This is the Torah that Moshe placed before Bnei Yisrael.”
In synagogues, shuls, Batei Keneses, shteeblach, or whatever you may call it, after the Torah reading (or before, in Sephardic tradition), the scroll is opened wide. Some strong fellow (or even not-so-strong fellow, if it’s a smaller and lighter Torah scroll) lifts the Sefer Torah high in the air for all to see. The entire congregation stands up and calls out these very same words that Moshe Rabbeinu said, “V’Zos HaTorah Asher Som Moshe Lifney Bnei Yisrael”. Some people even have the custom to point with their finger to the Torah.
BTW: This ceremony is called Hagbah, meaning “lifting.” Indeed, it is an uplifting experience!
The UPLIFTING Lesson
Hold it! “This is the Torah…” – the whole Torah? Of course not! During Hagbah, you only see a few columns of the Torah! In fact, it’s impossible for anyone to lift the Torah and open it wide enough to see all the columns at once!
Well, the word Torah is related to the word Hora’ah, meaning “lesson.” Zos HaTorah – “This is the lesson that Moshe placed before Bnei Yisrael.”
“I did not wait for Yehoshua,” Moshe’s actions hint to us. “There was a Mitzvah to do and I grabbed the opportunity. Follow my example, as long as it’s a Mitzvah, even if you only see part of it, do it! Don’t wait!”