Updated: Aug 10, 2022
In Parshat Vaetchanan, we recall milestones such as the ten commandments, the Shema and V'Ahavata. Vaetchanan, which means "and he pleaded," speaks about Moses pleading once again (Midrash says he prayed and pleaded more that 500 times ) to enter the land with the people, but Moses' request was refused. Moses will not enter the land with the people. His life's work is coming to an end and God commands Moses to train Joshua to lead the people when they cross over to the other side.
I wondered this week about legacy and a life's work and thought and how people at the end of their careers, whether it be a hewer of stones or a farmer or a professor or a leader of an enslaved people brought to freedom, pass on their knowledge to the next generation. This poem is probably best called a blessing to those whose careers are over; who possess much knowledge and must share it and walk out the door.
This poem is dedicated to those who reach the river, but never quite cross over it. Perhaps, indeed, that is most of us and perhaps that is even for the best.
May your teachings be long lasting. May your your students hear them, each in their own ways
and open their hearts to them, May they build upon your teachings with the creativity
that each new generation brings, and may the core of your teaching remain strong as a beating heart. May your life’s work be the building blocks of the next generation. May the radiant sparks that you have produced result in
countless points knowledge in the days to come
and may you delight in seeing those sparks ignite. May your life’s work be respected and still spoken of
years after you are no longer at the center. May the young discover your ideas and make them their own
and may those ideas flourish like fruit ripening on a tree. May your legacy be strong.
May you impart your body of knowledge to the young
with a generosity of spirit and the wisdom of your years; but with the knowledge that all things evolve over time and the young must make discoveries on their own;
you cannot do this for them,
for there is an element of discovery in every generation.
Fear not as you walk out the door that your work will be lost for the knowledge has been shared, as it was taught to you once and taught to those who came before you; each generation in their own way and appropriate for their own time,
as your teachings become part of the chain of shared knowledge.
May you share your knowledge with grace and with grace shall it be accepted, for such is the way of the passing of knowledge; passed with care from generation to generation;
from mind to mind,
from hand to hand,
from heart to heart.
May you merit to see your teachings in action one day,
May you accept them in their new form
with a sense of wonder, appreciation
and words of kindness. Although they might look different,
at their core your teachings are there, alive and vibrant and practiced from then until now
and now until then
as it has been and as it always shall be.
וְצַ֥ו אֶת־יְהוֹשֻׁ֖עַ וְחַזְּקֵ֣הוּ וְאַמְּצֵ֑הוּ כִּי־ה֣וּא יַעֲבֹ֗ר לִפְנֵי֙ הָעָ֣ם הַזֶּ֔ה וְהוּא֙ יַנְחִ֣יל אוֹתָ֔ם אֶת־הָאָ֖רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֥ר תִּרְאֶֽה׃
Give Joshua his instructions, and imbue him with strength and courage, for he shall go across at the head of this people, and he shall allot to them the land that you may only see.”
A link to last year's post on The Shema