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    Moses’ final message – Vayelech

    Moses Children of IsraelWith some poetical licence, let us try to imagine a farewell speech for Moses.


    Members of the nation of Israel, a stiff-necked people whom I have grappled with for forty years without great success and with very few moments of relaxation: I am sure you feel relieved that you will soon be rid of me. I am too old to take it any longer. I am going into retirement and presumably will not survive long.

    Whenever you could make life difficult for me you did. It was not only Korach, Datan and Aviram who needled me, not only members of my own family, but almost all the rest of you.

    I had only to turn my back and you started with a golden calf – I had only to try to organise food and drink for you and you began complaining that you missed the delicacies of Egypt (huh! some delicacies!) – I had only to try and establish moral guidelines in the camp and you commenced doing exactly what God had forbidden.

    What a lot of ungrateful rebels you are. I can’t speak for God, but as far as I am concerned you hardly deserve a chance at nation-building. How you will manage without me, Heaven only knows.

    I am sorry for Joshua in the years ahead. Good luck to him… good riddance to you.


    Fellow-Israelites who have been with me through these long years in the wilderness: My career and my life are coming to an end, not because I feel worn out but because God has told me so. This therefore is the final message of my life.

    It has been a great experience to attempt to mould you into a people, centered around the Holy of Holies and loyal to the Divine will. I will not try to pretend that it was easy. Your problems became my problems, and I had to summon up all the love and ingenuity I could in order to handle them. As far as I can recall, only once did I ever lose my temper with you, and I still feel bad about it.

    It was wounding when Korach, Datan and Aviram tried to undermine my office, without recognising that whatever authority I possessed came from God and not some personal ambition of my own.

    My hardest challenge was the insults and injury caused by members of my own family, though no-one could have loved them as I did, even in time of difficulty. I had many moments of loneliness when I had to sense what God wanted of me, and I pray that I made the right decisions.

    My assistant Joshua will take over from me. I wish him well. I pray that God will bless you and keep you.

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