Cowboy Up

by Harry

Last week we read, in Vaetchanan (Devarim [Deuteronomy] 3:23 – 7:11), about Moshe’s plea to God to forgive him enough to allow him to enter the Land—just for a look around.

God won’t be moved. The answer is no. The answer is actually:

רַב-לָךְ–אַל-תּוֹסֶף דַּבֵּר אֵלַי עוֹד, בַּדָּבָר הַזֶּה

Rav-lach–al tosef daber alai od badavar hazeh! (You have enough! Don’t speak to me about this any more!) (Devarim 3:26)

And that’s that.

Sorry. It’s just not going to happen.

This week, in Eichev (Devarim [Deuteronomy] 7:12 – 11:25), it’s time to see what the people are all about.

When they enter the land, will they be scared? Will they turn to other gods? When they experience abundance, will they forget that they didn’t do it all on their own? Will they decide they’re special? Entitled?

Will they be able to tap into the fierceness necessary, not only to conquer, but to continue to live their lives with discipline and authenticity?

What are they made of, anyway?

Moshe thinks he knows, and he’s not at all happy.

Moshe. Rejected Moshe. Moshe who got what he’s getting. Who shouldn’t bring it up again. Hurt Moshe. Moshe who’s read ahead and knows what’s coming.

Moshe who had to intercede on the people’s behalf so many times. Who fasted for 40 days–twice (and at his age) in order to receive the Torah. Who’s already buried his sister and his brother.

That Moshe.

That’s the Moshe who has to go before these people and tell them, in effect, that it’s time for them to cowboy up. These people who’ve been a pain in the ass from the first day he met them.

And then.

Then something amazing happens. Because we find out how they are going to accomplish that:

וּמַלְתֶּם, אֵת עָרְלַת לְבַבְכֶם; וְעָרְפְּכֶם–לֹא תַקְשׁוּ, עוֹד

U’maltem et arlat l’vavchem, v’arpechem lo takshu od. (Devarim 10:16)

Want to know how you’re going to grow up? To let that cowboy out? You’re going to open your heart and stop being stiff-necked and stubborn.

Know why that works?

Because you’re going to get hurt. That open heart is going to be broken.

You know what happens then? You learn that heartbreak isn’t the end of the world. And if you loosen your neck, if you stop stubbornly clinging to the idea that you deserve more, you’re going to realize that what you got actually is enough.

Rav-lach isn’t just “you have enough,” it’s “you have a lot.”

I need to remember this. I need to remember to open my heart and accept the abundance I have been given; the fierceness is always there.