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Vayelekh: God's Witness

Deuteronomy 31

Moses writes down a poem to be God's witness against the Israelites—or is he writing down the entire Torah? With a bonus from Joshua 1. (Click here for source sheet.)

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Mildred Bilt on September 19, 2012 at 11:14 pm (Reply)
May I suggest that the 'poem' is the Torah? As an analogy, medieval chieftains and kings always had 'bards' at their right hand to sing songs of heroic deeds and myths of creation and tribal histories. But the bards didn't actually sing as we understand the verb. They recited the tales with specific inflections, stresses and pauses in a sing/song repitition (but not singing) because that's how they memorized the narratives. When sociologists in our own time hastened to record the myths of disappearing cultures they found exactly the same process of memorized lilts among the few remaining 'singers'. In fact, Bob Dylan doesn't really 'sing': he is actually a bard. So it is with Torah. It is a 'poem/song with inflections. stresses, lilts to increase memory and maintain continuity of transmission through time. The Torah is a poem meant for the ages. To be sure some of our cantorial greats have raised the lilt of the bard to operatic heights but the poem was directed and intended for the rather less gifted.

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