"Give ear heavens and I will speak and let the earth hear the words of my mouth. Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants" Deuteronomy 32: 1-2


In this week's sidrah, the penultimate in the Torah, we are told of Moses's impending death. Lord Sacks, commenting on the verses above, suggests that just as the very same rain falls on every plant or tree and yet what grows is specific and unique vegetation, so too with the Torah. It is the very same Torah which is given to every individual, and yet we must each interpret it and live it in our own specific and unique way. As the Midrash states: "Like showers on new grass: just as showers fall on plants and make them grow, some green, some red, some black, some white, so the words of Torah produce teachers, worthy individuals, sages, the righteous and the pious."

Rabbi Sacks continues by quoting Maimonides: "This great variety and the necessity of social life are essential elements in people's nature. But the wellbeing of society demands that there should be a leader able to regulate the actions of mankind" (Guide for the Perplexed, 2: 40). This emphasis, that difference matters, is of great importance for the continued leadership of the Children of Israel after Moses's death..

Appointing Joshua is Moses's last act as the greatest leader of the Jewish people, but in so doing, he reminds us that a leader must recognise the individuality of everyone and encourage this appreciation of difference. Moses's last song, his farewell to the people, is to remind them that there is one God and one Torah – but that there are many of them. Each person matters, each has a unique contribution they must make to the world.

As we approach Yom Kippur, notwithstanding regretting our mistakes, it is incumbent on us to recognise and hold dear all that we have to offer with our individual talents, always aware that personal flourishing is enabled through Torah.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive