Pardon me for using this throwback photo from last summer but the image of my son Caleb wrapped in his tefillin remains the most vivid way to communicate the message of this week's powerful parsha. Moses, knowing that his time among the living is running out, and fearful that the Israelites, once they enter their beautiful new home, will ignore G-d's laws, entreats his flock never to forget their troubled past. "For the Lord your G-d is bringing you into a good land, a land with streams and springs and fountains issuing from plain and hill; a land of wheat and barley, of vines, figs, and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey...where you will lack nothing...(B)eware lest your heart grow haughty and you forget the Lord your G-d--who freed you from the land of Egypt, the house of bondage; who led you through the great and terrible wilderness...and brought forth water for you from the flinty rock; who fed you in the wilderness with manna....." Perhaps his biggest worry is that the next generation of Israelites, spoiled by their good fortune, will begin to believe their own hype, forgetting that they owe eternal gratitude to G-d (an idea that seems almost eerily relevant for Jews today). "Take care not to be lured away to serve other gods and bow to them. For the Lord's anger will flare up against you...and you will soon perish from the good land that the Lord is assigning you." And so: "'...Impress these My words upon your very heart: bind them as a sign on your hand and let them serve as a symbol on your forehead, and teach them to your children...and inscribe them on the door posts of your house and on your gates--to the end that you and your children may endure, in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to assign to them, as long as there is a heaven over the earth.'"
Thinking this week of the late Elicia Brown Pomeroy, Aliza Elka bat Leah v Tadros who died last Shabbat. She was a gifted writer whose beautiful words about her family and contemporary Jewish life reflected the beauty of her soul. May her memory be for a blessing. Shabbat Shalom!