V'aschanan: Jewish Renewal
you have children and grandchildren and will have been “noshantem”
in the land, you will grow corrupt and make a carved image, and you will do evil
in the eyes of G-d to anger Him” (Deut. Ch.4 v.25).
does the word “noshantem” mean? Some commentators have it as “long”, to
say that when you have been long in the land, this shall happen. But why would
that be so?
Moshe Shapira, one of the greatest scholars of this generation, defines the word
as “bored”. When the Jewish people become bored in Israel, these things
is the message, according to Rabbi Shapira’s explanation, of this verse?
nature as things age they lose their attraction. People are always looking for
something new, something exciting. Something that is old is “so last year.”
Interestingly, this is how Nachmanodies understands the desire for forbidden
sexual practices: as people who have made the special (that is, relations
between a husband and wife) into something mundane, they constantly need
something more perverse in order to excite them. If we look into the
contemporary culture, i.e., styles of dress, movies, television, etc., this idea
certainly rings true.
This is what happens to a society which bases itself on the
superficiality and the importance of material things. On the other hand, we know that things of worth have enduring
value. In fact, these things often increase in value as they grow older. Love
between a husband and wife, love between close friends and family members, and
ideally love of one’s self, G-d, and the Torah.
way we keep the love for these things vibrant is to find and appreciate
different aspects about them. This does not necessarily have to mean something
new about the person; rather, it means that the original feelings do not
feel stale, but, on the contrary, feel fresh.
our daily prayers we say, “And in His (G-d’s) goodness He renews and
perpetuates creation daily.” Besides this renewal being a practical aspect of
creation (in physics this is known as quantum uncertainty), this is true
metaphysically, as G-d’s love for the Jewish people is undiminished from our
original “marriage” (at Sinai). Not only that, but He created the
commandments with such a multitude of expression within them, that there is
always newness within the performance. And He created within us
the ability to relate to the multifaceted aspect of these commandments.
virtue of this reality, it is thus possible to avoid the staleness and inertia
of our lives. This is evidenced by the Jews’ commitment to Torah, which 3300
years after it was given remains as special as the day it was handed down at