Ben-Tzion Spitz
Former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay

The Riddle Master of Moab

“Did you understand him?” Rakar asked Paiti as they walked away from the assembly. “Usually Moses is so direct, but this time I could barely comprehend what he was trying to say.”

“To perceive the inner meaning is art,” Paiti said.

“Requiring both wisdom and heart.”

“Huh?” Rakar looked blankly as they headed towards their tents.

“History is not as you observe,

Merely a guide that you serve.

Sons of Heaven, children of the Earth,

Fast lose their way as they leave the hearth.”

“You’re worse than him. Speak plainly, man. Why the riddles?” Rakar kicked a pebble from the dusty Moabite plain.

“Plain to understand, plain to forget,

Depth tangles you and will not let.

Drunk on wealth leave their God,

Sleep with strange gods, just a nod.

Pain and punishment natural cause,

Do not understand His myriad laws.”

“This is frustrating, Paiti. Your riddles are just giving me a headache. Just tell me what he said.” Raker kicked a fist-sized stone, sending it flying into the shin of a young boy. The boy ran off crying.

“Vengeance brings order near,

Great nations to disappear.

Israel shall remain on hand,

The remnant in its own land.

Beware the pit at your feet,

A hole you will shortly meet.”

“Paiti, I’ve had enough. I can’t walk with you anymore.” Rakar looked angrily at Paiti as they walked through irregular terrain.

“True careless Rakar, you shall trip,

Or to your small doom at least will slip.”

“What?” Rakar fell into a small crevice on his path, banging his shin and crying out in pain.

“Paiti! Why didn’t you warn me?”

“Warning given but unheeded,

Moses’ riddles deeply needed.

Fall again and failure encounter,

If his poems you do not decipher.”

Paiti offered his hand to help Rakar out of the hole. Rakar grabbed it and stepped out of the crevice.

“Is there hope for one unschooled?” Rakar asked.

“For one by his own blindness fooled?”

“Hope is eternal and will be your part,” Paiti replied.

“If truth you seek with open heart.”

* * * * * *

Inspired by Deuteronomy Chapter 32, the famous poem of Moses, ‘Haazinu’

Notes: Haazinu is an extremely deep poem with rabbinic commentators from the last several centuries giving a variety of explanations. It tells a distilled tale of human and Jewish history from creation until the end of days. Worth learning.

About the Author
Ben-Tzion Spitz is the former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay. He is the author of six books of Biblical Fiction and hundreds of articles and stories dealing with biblical themes. He is the publisher of Torah.Works, a website dedicated to the exploration of classic Jewish texts, as well as TweetYomi, which publishes daily Torah tweets on Parsha, Mishna, Daf, Rambam, Halacha, Tanya and Emuna. Ben-Tzion is a graduate of Yeshiva University and received his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University.