May 27, 2024
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Devarim 5775: Unrevised History

Moses begins what may well be history’s first Farewell Address.

As he reviews the good, the bad, and even the ugly, he also does one other thing: he keeps his role true, and public.

He speaks of the Exodus, of Divine might, and of victory at the Red Sea and then Revelation at Sinai.

But he also discusses—at some length—the sin of the spies and its disastrous national consequences. There he says, of the suggestion to send the Twelve across the Jordan River and report back, “and it was good in my eyes.”

There were good reasons to scout the terrain ahead, and Joshua himself would likewise send a smaller, more trusted set. No one could have predicted for certain what they’d say, or how it would play out.

It doesn’t work out the way anyone hoped.

Moses, decades on, takes full responsibility.

He does not argue that he made use of the best information available, or that he acquiesced to a decision he did not fully support.

Elected officials and policymakers do make decisions with the best information available to them.

Sometimes, that policy, determination, or decision works as planned, and sometimes not.

When not, one thing everyone can learn from Moses is admitting it.

That works for policies in geopolitics, domestically, in a business, an organization, and in the home.

Words to consider. Ideas to ponder. Politics & the parsha.

Howie Beigelman, formerly of Springfield, NJ, is Executive Director of Ohio Jewish Communities. He works at the intersection of Jewish communal service and nonprofit advocacy. Follow him on Twitter @howielbv

By Howie Beigelman

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