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    Getting old – Vayelech

    elderly old seniorWith this sidra, Moses’s life is entering its final chapter, and he says, Lo uchal od latzet v’lavo – “I am no longer able to go out and come in” (Deut. 31:2).

    This is one of the two main Biblical descriptions of the aging process.

    The other is the 12th chapter of Kohelet, which is quite amusing though sad in its description of the way in which first one, then another part of the body begins to pack up and cease functioning (“Your arms become shaky and your legs become bent, your few teeth don’t grind and your eyes become dim…”).

    The major difference between the onset of old age in Kohelet and in D’varim is that here in D’varim we see the sadness of Moses’ once mighty mind beginning to decline.

    The rabbis say, “His fountains of wisdom were closed up”.

    The Gerer Rebbe, however, reads the story differently. He finds the narrative triumphant, not tragic.

    The way he understands it, Moses as chief of the prophets has come almost to the end of his earthly striving. Stage by stage he has elevated himself and now he is within sight of the Divine presence.

    He is not and could never become Divine, but he is now “little lower than the angels” (Psalm 8:6).

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