Here we stand. Almost at the end, almost in the promised land. But, as the saying goes, too long after sunset and too far from dawn. We are in the final stretch. A space that can be the cause of our anxiety where the perils of the road are very much still ahead of us. Overconfidence will not get us through and stalling would put all our journey at risk. We must traverse, and in the process learn something about ourselves… At the end of this week’s parsha, God commands Moses to ascend the mountain on which he is destined to leave this world, “in this very day” – that is, in the middle of the day is what the verse says (Deuteronomy 32:48).
There are 2 other places in our Torah that this same phrase is used, With Noah and in Egypt.
In the story of Noah God tasks him with building the ark but he also tasks him to tell the people that the flood is coming unless they repent ( for about 120 years if you believe the Midrash)
But they ignored his prophecies of calamity refusing to take note of him or the warning signs. Until the rain began to fall… By then it was too late When reality sets in they try to destroy the ark and prevent Noah from going into the ark. It is at this point that God intervenes “I will bring Noah into the ark, not in the concealment or at night, under the cover of darkness but openly in the broad daylight In this very day ( Genesis 7:13)
A similar scenario plays out in Egypt and the story of Exodus. Pharaoh, unimpressed with the plagues refuses to hear the plight of Moses and the Israelites. Pharaoh being stubborn (God fault but that’s for another shmate) he undoubtedly refuses to see the suffering of his own people. Then, the last blow, the last plague comes and Pharaoh walks in the city and now begged the Israelites to leave (shemot 12:31) And what does God say?
That very day the LORD freed the Israelites from the land of Egypt, troop by troop. (ibid 51)
In our story here as Moses is about to die God says to him “ That very day the LORD spoke to Moses” as he speaks the last words to Moses (Deut 32: 48) Here too, the plights of the people and Moses own regret as he can see the land but cannot enter are not enough to change Gods mind and his will ( as in the other places) its revealed.
What do all these have in common? Every time God commands “on the very day” it is a final judgment, a moment that Gods will is clear and his will is done. All the moves have been played and its time to see what is the outcome. Many times its just too late and the truth and consequence is revealed, bright as day. The fait is inevitable and we come to see the consequence of our stubbornness and foolishness.
It serves as a reminder for us to not wait for the last minute ( one more pasha to go)… Not to wait for the heart attack before changing our eating habits, smoking, and exercises. Not wait till the last moment to say I love you to those who matter the most to us. Not to wait until we see no other choice but to decide to change TODAY. THIS Shabbat! To ask ourselves, how can I be better? What actions do I need to take to BE better?