Finding a Voice: Zot HaBracha and Copying the Greats

This week we finished the liturgical reading of the Torah with Zot HaBracha. In this portion we read the last mitzvah recorded in the Torah. There we read:

Now therefore write yourself this song, and teach it the children of Israel; put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for Me against the children of Israel. (Deuteronomy 31:19)

According to Sefer HaChinuch this 613th commandment is an obligation of writing a Sefer Torah. This got me thinking about my own desire to do more writing. What are the implications that we are all commanded to write a copy of the Torah?

In thinking about this question I got to thinking about a famous line by Woody Allen who said:

I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not dying. I don’t want to live on in the hearts of my countrymen; I want to live on in my apartment.

Yes I would like to live on in my writing and in my children AND I would also like to live longer. But why the commandment to write a copy of the Torah?

Every time I go to an art museum I see aspiring artists. While walk around to look at the art, she is there to copy the greats.

Adult Art Classes at Tribeca's New York Academy of Art | Tribeca Trib Online

In the process she discovers her own style, aesthetic, and voice. Before she can express her own voice she needs to master the greats.

So here we find ourselves soon after saying, ” who will live and who will die” in the liturgy. Just like the aspiring artist who copies the greats, we are instructed to copy the Good Book. In the process we discover our own voices

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