This is only a test.
A midrash on Parasha Ekev
There he stands.
Old. Exhausted. Wobbly from dehydration and with swollen feet (despite what the story says), behaving like a regular Yiddishe mama, still lecturing, still wagging his knobby fist in their faces, still reminding those unruly kids of the laws, the regs, the codes of conduct. Reminding them, “You’re not home free yet, bubbeleh. Do not count your chickens before they hatch. Put on your listening ears. Sh’maaaaaaaaaah.”
I keep telling him his blood pressure would be lower, maybe the ulcer would heal, if he’d relax and stop awfulizing. They’re not in kindergarten any more, I tell him. Let it go already, I say. Have a cold beer. Some nachos. Treat yourself, for once. But does he put on his listening ears? Nope.
Instead, he stands beneath the scorching Sinai sky - no hat, no sun screen, a man his age should have more sense - and shouts for their attention. They, the eye-rollers. The kvetches. The entitled.
“Listen up,” he yells. “NOW. HEAR. THIS,” he howls. “I’m only going to say this one more time.” Ah-ha. The magic words. I can almost see the thought balloons above their heads.
One more time? Cool. Let’s pretend we give a shit.
Awwwwwww, jeez. We know this routine by heart.
Yada yada yada. Borrrrrrrrringgggggg.
And Moses? This aged prophet parent faced with his last hurrah? He leans on his staff and begs, “For God’s sake do not hang out with riffraff. Say please and thanks for what you receive. Play nice with the neighbors, except for the downright rotten ones whose toys you have permission to stomp on and whose butts you have permission to kick.” He’s on a roll. Gathers steam.
“I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again,” he burbles. “If you obey, if you’re good boys and girls, you’ll get milk and cookies and full rides to Yale and McMasions with wine cellars and you won’t need fertility docs and your babies will never get sick. But if you screw up, watch out. If you screw up, all manner of crap will fall in your lap like you wouldn’t believe. So. You. Better. Believe. Good brings good, bad brings bad - it's called quid pro quo - except when good brings bad which brings good but never mind. We don’t have time to debate the existential dilemma of causality right now. Sh’maaaaaaaaaah.”
And then the clever old codger, he shifts gears. “In case you think blessings come your way because you’re better than the other guy, because you’re such goody-two shoes, think again, Buster Brown. If power, prestige and pizza come your way it’s because the other guy is worse than you are, so don’t get all uppity and full of yourselves because angels you are not.”
I hand Moses a Gatorade. Between swigs he delivers the knockout punch. “In a few weeks I’ll be dead,” he says, hand clutching his heart. “In a few weeks you’ll be free of my lectures, my exhortations, my two cents. Free of this worrywart who loved you to the moon and back and cared for your well-being above all else. Free of this buttinsky who went before the Judge to plead your case after the shenanigans you pulled at Horeb, Taberah, Massah, Kibroth-hattaavah, at Kadesh-barnea.”
I hand Moses a Kleenex. “Yes,” he continues, weeping softly. “Soon you’ll be free of me. The one who threw himself on the mercy of the court and begged, Pleeeeeze, give them another chance. Who promised, They’ll change, they’ll be good. Free of the one who fasted, ate nothing for days, not so much as an olive, said whatever it took to save your behinds. To get you to this place. And did that person who bailed you out more than once, who always put your needs ahead of his own, without whom you’d still be working at Target, did that person get even a single word of thanks, a box of cigars, a bottle of whiskey for his trouble?”
And there they stand.
The question between them
hard as the rod with which he struck the rock.
Ozzie Nogg copyright 2016