August 21, 2017 ~ Shabbat SHOFETIM. Maqam AJAM.

Shabbat Reeh

The Path

וסרתם מן הדרך - In the wilderness of Phoenix, Arizona, I used to hike Squaw Peak every week. When climbing this mountain, there was a designated path to get to the top, and this is the trail that everyone took. One time, however, thinking that I can beat the system by getting to the top quicker, I intentionally went off the path. Big mistake. The amount of times that I slipped on loose rocks causing me to land in thorns of cactus are too numerous to count. This experience caused me to understand the concept mentioned in Deuteronomy 11:28 about "straying off the path" (וסרתם מן הדרך) and the danger of pursuing ways "that you don't know" (אשר לא ידעתם). For me, this parable represents the choice of "paths" that we all have. It is the Torah's recommendation (for our own sake) that we choose a path that is most familiar to us, our families, and our community, and not an alien one; often a path to nowhere. Beth Torah Bulletin, August 19, 2017.