“We Will Follow Him” by Prof Gerald August

Aug 1st, 2011 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week

Follow the Leader

Aylu Hadvarim Asher Debear Moshe. These are the words that Moses spoke to the children of Israel. This is the first sentence in the book of Deuteronomy. But we must stop the Torah reading right here because something is wrong. We were taught in the book of Exodus that Moses had a speech defect and his brother Aaron would be his spokesman. Now Moses began a 2 ½ hour speech and the people listened. What was different than when Moses first went to Egypt to free the people?

When we first meet someone who wants to be our leader, we can be swayed by the articulate person. The person who stammers will not be chosen to be the leader. But the real test of a leader is whether that person delivers what he said he would do. The Torah is teaching us not only how to be a good leader but also how to be a good follower. If your leader does not deliver, find a new leader who will.

As a leader, Moses delivered on what he had promised. He led them out of the land of Egypt, led them to Mount Sinai, and took them to the borders of Israel. Therefore, when he stood up to give his 2 ½ hour speech, the people strained and listened to hear what he had to say. As good followers they understood you followed someone who delivered on his promises.

That is why I think the correct translation of Aylu hadvarim is not, “These are the words”. The

word Dvarim can also mean, “Things”. So I believe the correct translation is, “These are the

things about which Moses spoke to the Children of Israel”. The things he did made him a good

leader, and the good followers listened for 2 ½ hours.

Will we be good followers?