July 15, 2024
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Devarim 5776: Uncommon Purpose

We’ve written before that Devarim—Deuteronomy—begins what may be history’s first (and possibly its longest) farewell address. Leaders, such as President Washington returning to Mount Vernon, and others, have used these moments to cajole or recommend, or, as Moses does, to remind.

Moses reminds the nation of its formation in crucible after flaming crucible: the Patriarchs and Matriarchs and both their personal struggles as well as the derision they faced from their neighbors, then the tribes and their initial welcome but eventual persecution in Egypt, and on to the miraculous, bloody Exodus. Moses reviews their finest national triumphs—on the battlefield (Amalek) and off (revelation at Sinai) as well as their gravest errors (the spies) and greatest sins (the Golden Calf).

But Moses also reminds the nation of the “why” to the “what.” Why they have been different, what values they strive to emulate, and why they have been chosen. He suggests what their destiny could be.

In other words, he reminds them who they are and by what shared experiences they got here. He reminds them why, even as 12 spirited, disparate tribes of all sizes, varied economies and different strengths, they are one people. And why they should remain that way.

In tough times, that has always remained the province of leadership. That’s true in companies. It’s true in communities. And it’s true in government.

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

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