You became thick, and you kicked

Rabbi James Stone Goodman

By Rabbi James Stone Goodman

So you got fat [Deut. 32:15], G*d would have suckled you with honey from a rock and oil from a flinty stone butter of cattle milk or sheep fat of lambs, but you became thick and you kicked. 

Of course, we will get fat if we eat like that. The honey alone from the rock you might reconsider the oil and butter and sheep and lambs, try a vegetable substitute. Get creative with spices.

You can always come back. Return, O Israel. Kick and drink the good wine from the grape, unfermented blood of the grape, it’s better, it won’t make you crazy. The good wine from the grape – you could get nuts with that, you might enjoy it too much and then not only would you get fat, you’d also be stupid and stoned. Stick to the juice. 

Give up your non-G*ds, your non-people become real [32:17]. 

You have my attention. I’m kind of attached to my non-Gods. [Give up your non-G*ds] I heard you the first time, not easy to give them up. Non-G*ds may be all I have.  

You’re a generation of reversals [Deut. 32:20]. True that.

Maybe I’ll keep the non-G*ds because they might lead to G*ds. I’ll keep the non-G*ds in faith they will lead to G*ds. Deal.

Who is a rock, who is perfect whose paths are just [32:4]? What is the climbing vine, the fructifying rain? 

Are these questions for answering or are they rhetorical?

Remember the days of old [33:7].

Ah. Rhetorical. Yes, I remember the days of old. Trying. 

Return O Israel to your G*d [Hosea 14:2] I will heal their disloyalty, I will love them free. [Hosea 14:5] 

Do you mean until we are free? Beautiful thought that, did I hear that right? 

Tell them they can always come home. 

Moses spoke the words of this poem into the ears of the people; Moses and his successor Hoshea, son of Nun [32:44]. 

Oh yes, of course. Moses and Joshua, good communicators. The right stuff.

Then G*d spoke to Moses on that day: apply your hearts to all these words [32:46-47]

it is not an empty thing

it is your life.

Moses, you will see the land but you will not come there [32:52]. The next chapter closed to him.  

As I am writing this, I am grieving Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who saw the next chapters play out through her life’s work. She saw the land, and she took the country into it. Time for mourning. Rest in peace.

Rabbi James Stone Goodman serves Central Reform Congregation and is a past president of the St. Louis Rabbinical and Cantorial Association, which coordinates the d’var Torah for the Light.