January 28, 2023 |

My Weekly Drash (a mini D'var Torah) - Vayelech

It was the Russian playwright Anton Chekov who came up with this definition of foreshadowing: if there's a gun hanging on the wall in the first act, it must be fired in the last. There's foreshadowing in the Torah but we may not pick up on it as we read it over the course of an entire year. This week in Va-Yeilekh, Moses announces that he is 120 years old and will soon be joining his ancestors. That number is not random. Way back in Parshah Bereshit - which we read anew in a few weeks - God says, "My breath shall not abide in man forever, since he too is flesh; let the days allowed him be 120 years." (Gen. 6:3). We usually think Moses as punished since he does not get to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land, but it's worth noting that - unlike most people - he gets to live out the full allotted span of life. You've probably heard the traditional Jewish hope, "May you live to 120!" Even though nearly all of us will fall short of that goal, it invites us to think of the future even as we recognize our own mortality. In addition, it allows nearly all of us to consider ourselves, at most, middle aged.

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Daniel M. Kimmel

Joined: October 2, 2007

Daniel M. Kimmel is a Boston area film critic, lecturer and author. He does these weekly mini-lessons for the Mishkan Tefila Brotherhood's newsletter. You are free to use them for similar purposes.

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