Hukkat: Outside the Box

What if the whole question of Moses’ sin is a red herring?  What if the real point of the passage is to demonstrate the folly of seeking to explain everything that befalls as a result of someone’s sin?

When we divest ourselves of the drama of Moses’ alleged sin, we do not find the arc of his life damaged or unfulfilled.  Indeed, it seems fitting and wholesome that Moses gives us his last words outside the land.  In this way, Torah stands above, or to one side of, what we like to consider the exigencies of survival, of life in the world.  Not so far removed, of course, as to be irrelevant or utopian, but distinct enough to awaken us to our better selves.

Such considerations may not have been any comfort to Moses at the time.  But the rest of the Torah, especially the book of Deuteronomy, shows us a man who has put this disappointment behind him, who rallies himself for one last great summation of his faith and vision.

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