This week’s Torah portion, Eikev, is most wonderful. You could say that about most but some are hard to deconstruct or find happiness in. This one is easy. Moses continues to tell the people what they will find when they enter the land of Israel, the promised land. Something he will never do.
So even as he describes this beautiful land flowing with milk and honey, he reminds the people of their shortcomings and failures. What I take from this is a truly resonant lesson, to remember your failings and mistakes, they are part of who you are, but not to live in them. The people, even as they they are scolded for their shortcomings are about to go forward to something new and wonderful. And best of all, we are told, G-d forgives them.
Forgiveness is a powerful force. More so for the forgiver than for the forgiven. In this case, however, the forgiven are freed for the way forward to a new life. In life I have found that forgiving has everything to do with moving forward. When you live in bitterness, regret, anger it affects only you, not whoever is the “target” of those feelings unless of course it is yourself. Moving past those feelings is possible only with acceptance of the reality of your, or their, failings and with forgiveness.
It is also interesting that this portion of forgiveness and moving forward also includes the second, virtually unknown, part of the shema, the central prayer of Judaism. The “chapter” reminds us of the power of prayer. And so this portion as a whole exhorts us to two of the most powerful forces we can bring into our lives, forgiveness and prayer. Imagine the beautiful and peaceful way forward impelled by those forces, if only we can internalize them.