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 Moshe, our great teacher and leader, the greatest of all prophets and the lawgiver of the Torah to Israel and the world, remains in his role as the greatest teacher even on his last day at on earth. And the words of Moshe, as recorded for us in this week’s Torah reading, are probably some of the strongest words of prophecy that exist in the Holy Scriptures.

Moshe, like all great teachers, is vividly aware of the shortcomings that exist in his classroom. He knows that his students are lazy, backsliders, uninterested in the subject being taught, and generally a sullen and rebellious lot. Yet, like all great teachers, he is full of hope and optimism regarding their eventual future and that his efforts to educate and guide them would not be a waste.
There will come a day when the students will remember what the teacher said long ago and take it to heart and apply it to life and to circumstances, both personal and national. It is this innate knowledge that every teacher has that keeps the teacher striving even in the face of difficulties.
Eventually, the lessons of life and history will sink in and the student will become aware of what the teacher was attempting to convey. Even though the student may have chosen to ignore or even forget what was taught to him for a good portion of one’s lifetime, there will always be a day of recognition and remembrance.
The Talmud teaches us that the words in the message of the teacher are not truly absorbed by the student until at least 40 years later. We have teachers when we are young and then, by our very nature, we are unable to truly appreciate and internalize what we are being taught. Knowledge and facts can be taught but spirit and life wisdom are much more difficult for students to absorb.
So, the teacher is relegated to planting seeds within the student that in the fullness of time and the richness of experience will eventually blossom and become meaningful. This is exactly how Moshe phrases his prophecy in this week’s Torah reading. He speaks of a far distant future, of the end of days, a time when all the human plans and certainties have been exhausted and proven to be of little value, and it is at that time that the Jewish people will seek to return to their status as a holy nation and a kingdom of priests.
They will remember the lessons that Moshe taught them in their youth and that they have so sorely neglected over centuries of exile and even of rebirth. And these lessons will now rise up before them and drive them towards eternal goals and eventual vindication and triumph.
Shabbat shalom
Rabbi Berel Wein

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