A Great Perspective for the Future

Yael Eckstein  |  September 9, 2021

Moses views Promised Land

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” — Deuteronomy 31:6

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Vayelech, which means “and he went,” from Deuteronomy 31:1–30.

The past year and a half have been difficult for everyone. The combination of a global pandemic and political changes have increased fear and anxiety around the world. Many people feel that their faith is being tested. They are looking to God for answers in these troubling and confusing times. A close friend of mine who is a prominent pastor said to me that he feels that we are being prepared for some great transition, but that we don’t know what exactly this transition will bring.

As the Jewish people just began a new year on the biblical calendar, it is a time to reflect on what we have been through and to gain perspective for the future.

In this week’s Torah portion, as the people of Israel prepared to enter the Promised Land, Moses poured into them words of encouragement. They, too, were entering into a great transition. While their future was filled with promise, it also brought new challenges and much uncertainty. They would need to fight wars and struggle to build and defend a new nation state.

A Great Perspective for the Future

There is a powerful message and a great perspective for the future in the original Hebrew of Moses’ words that is lost in the translation to English. In English, there is no difference in how the verb appears between a command given to an individual and one spoken to a group of people in the plural. But in Hebrew, as in many other languages, the verbs are pluralized.

At the beginning of the verse, when Moses said, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified,” these words were addressed to the people in the plural, as though addressing them as a group of separate individuals. But at the end of the very same verse, when Moses said, “for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you,” he spoke to the nation in the singular, addressing them as a single unified body.

What a powerful message! It is as though Moses said to them, “When you feel alone and afraid, you are an individual. But if you are united with other people of faith, with one heart for God, He will go with you and will never forsake you.”

What a great perspective for the future. May we find strength and comfort in uniting with all who have faith in the God of Israel.

Your Turn:

Take a minute to reflect on some of the fears and anxieties that you have encountered in the past year. Share them privately with God. Find strength in other people of faith who share your concerns.