What does Moshe Rabbenu say as his last will and testament, on the last day of his life? ” All of you are standing today in the presence of the Lord your God—your leaders and chief men, your elders and officials, and all the other men of Israel, together with your children and your wives, and the foreigners living in your camps who chop your wood and carry your water.” This is how this week’s Torah Portion starts, and our commentators find here some deep, eternal messages from Moshe Rabbenu to us:
1. Unity. Moshe gathers all of the house of Israel here. No one is to be absent. No one is to remain back at the tent. We need EVERYONE in this story, and we have to make an effort, to this very day, so that the unity between us should not fall apart.
2. The glue in this unity is – “In the presence of the Lord your G-d”. This is not an empty unification just for the sake of unity. Rather, it has a deeper meaning. We cannot find another glue to keep us together.
3. All the strata of the nation are important. Moshe does not suffice with the word “all of you”, but details: the senior ones and the junior ones, women and men, the wood choppers and water carriers; everyone, from the tycoon to the street cleaner. The Torah is not given to chosen individuals but to a chosen nation. And as Rabbi Kook wrote: “The intelligentsia thinks that it can stay apart from the multitudes and by that it will be healthier in spirit and more noble in thought. This is a fundamental error”.
So, what do we have here? A demand for basic solidarity, honoring of the Torah and proper relations between the Elite and the common people. This is still relevant to us today.