Moses and His Fitbit (2) – the Torah Portion of Vayelech

I love Moshe in the Torah portion of Vayeylech. I loved him last year and love him just the same if not more this year. I think of him daily. At 120 years old, he walks. And not for his own musing, but in order to speak to the People “all these things” (Deuteronomy 31:1). Couldn’t they come to him? Didn’t anyone think, ‘oh, Moshe is getting old, our journey is nearing its end, we should try to hear as much Torah from him as possible, let’s all go to see him and sit at his feet”… Instead, the humblest person we know of, gets up and goes, so that we too will learn to walk; to go talk; to ask, to teach, to bid farewell when the time comes; to not sit around and wait for things to happen, but to get up and make them happen, at least start.
At 120, he also writes the Torah, coincidentally or not, with the same Torah portion he “walks”, possibly to hint at a connection between the constant movement needed – not a speedy run but not a standstill either – but a walk, when it comes to Jewish Law, halacha from the same root as Vayelech.

In the Haifa of my childhood I too, walk. I reacquaint myself with the streets I took my first steps. Some places are still there: the lottery tickets booth hasn’t budged; others have been altered, demolished, rebuilt, added. The little chocolate store turned into a candy boutique. Trees have grown bigger; some have been removed to widen the main street; houses making new neighborhoods popped up where we used to drag broken pieces of wood for campfires and scouts tents; and new tenants have arrived in the form of herds of wild boars in the woods around. I come across old familiar corners and new sites. All essentials are in place, a shul nearby (two) and groceries and post office and even Israeli dancing. But sometimes, suddenly, I see myself sitting in my school uniform on a bench, waiting for a bus with my friends, still chatting and laughing; then I notice she’s someone else…

But mostly I walk – with Moses – looking to learn the Jewish – Israeli – continuum where I can join, find and / or invent what’s next. Like a hidden map, Haifa is not Jerusalem and not Tel Aviv and needs to be discovered as well as invented. The Carmel is a bit sleepy, always was. We have great views, and a gorgeous coastline, good coffee and we love to work; yes, there’s always work in this industrious “red” city; ‘we are a diligent people, sprayed by Yekke (German Jews)-powder of those who came here in the 1930’s and 40’s; we don’t have time for… you wanted to talk to about… what? Learning?? Talmud? Peoplehood? Are you trying to make me religious?? Sorry, can this wait? I’m finally off work and heading to the beach’…

I hold on to Moses and we keep walking; I’m small in his shadow; I’m not worried; we have Torah to share.

Shabbat Shalom & still, Shana Tova & Gmar Chatima Tova.


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2 Responses to Moses and His Fitbit (2) – the Torah Portion of Vayelech

  1. Maxine Epstein says:

    Shana Tovah Michal. A voice from the past. I want to say “thank you” for your weekly posts. I love receiving them and reading them. I learn with each one you write. I hope this year brings you great health, joy and of course laughter. Your teachings bring me insight and connection. Thank you. G’mar Chatima Tovah, Many hugs, Maxine

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Trachtman, Howard says:

    Very sweet
    Gmar tov

    Sent from my iPhone

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