In his commentary on this week’s portion, Devarim (Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22), Nachmanides states: “It is a repetition of the Torah, in which Moses explains to the generation that will enter the land most of the commandments that the Jews will need.” In a series of five speeches, Moses reiterates the commandments and covenant between God and the early Israelites. His methodology is one quite familiar to us as Jews: storytelling.
Events from the people’s past are retold with an eye toward their moral lessons and enduring understandings. It is an effective model, and one we all use subconsciously today. When telling others about our day, our travels, or even something we have read, we tend to focus on that which has lasting impact upon us and not gritty minutiae. We thus retell events in such a way that they become beneficial to the listener as well as the one telling the story. May we continue to learn from Moses’ stories as have generations of our people’s past.
Rabbi Aaron C. Meyer