The Value of Forgetfulness in a Culture of Tradition

Parashat Nitzavim-VaYelekh

As we approach the end of Devarim, we also approach Moshe’s death.  The tension rises:  The only leader the Jewish people have known thus far is about to die.  Even we—the readers of the biblical text from a distance of hundreds of years—sense the great fear that must have been felt by the Israelites.  But there is another aspect to the tension, which we, the readers, are not only observers of, but also party to.  In a culture that values tradition, which is largely founded on a connection to the past, moments of death and transition from one generation to another feel particularly threatening.  These are moment that hold the potential for crisis and fragmentation.  Dealing with them is particularly complex. (5777)