Friday, March 26, 2010

Life and Good

Awhile back, I received the following note from my friend Cate -- remember, the one who reads and knits:

"This was in my mail today from my weekly Torah readings. I like the rhythm of it . . . I consider the most beautiful passage in the Torah to be found in Parashat Nitzavim (Deut. 30:11-14)":

"Surely, this mitzvah that I enjoin upon you this day is not too baffling for you, nor is it beyond reach. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, 'Who among us can go up to the heavens and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?' Neither is it beyond the sea . . . No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it."

Upon reading this, I felt sure that it was one of the passages I had been required to memorize years ago in school, so I ran to my old paper (yes!) files and pulled out a couple of archived folders: "Bible as Literature (Fall 1973)" & "English Bible (Spring 1982)" and sure enough, there it was:

11: For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.

12: It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?

13: Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?

14: But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.

15: See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;

16: In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.

Deuteronomy 30: 11 - 17

Detail from
Four Seasons Mosaic Mural by Marc Chagall
First National Plaza in downtown Chicago
Corner of Monroe & Dearborn

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