Student Teaching in the New Millenium

Did we roll a Gimel or a Nun? (5771 Devarim III)

In Deuteronomy, Torah on August 3, 2011 at 10:30 pm

Back and Forth!
Fact or Fiction?
All or Nothing?
A Gimel or a Nun?

Isaiah 1:1-27
Deuteronomy 1:22-38

The next part of our portion features the restatement of the incident at Kadesh-Barnea: the twelve men who scouted the land of Canaan, their report, and Israel’s subsequent behavior. We could also call this an insider’s analysis of the events: Moses is the pundit, describing the circumstances, the different parties’ positions – including his own – their reactions and behavior, and the conclusion. Deuteronomy says this is the Israelites’ arrival at the border of Canaan, the directive to possess it, the sending of the scouts, their report, the subsequent refusal of the Israelites to take the land for fear of the inhabitants and doom, and God’s resolution that they should pass through the wilderness for forty years, quickly resolving any near- and long-term concerns anyone may have had at the time.

In the game of Dreidel, if we roll a Gimel we take the pot. If we roll a Nun, we do nothing, or pass. Did the Israelites roll a Gimel or a Nun in this episode?

The debt ceiling talks reached a resolution recently, as most of us know. The increase was signed into law with agreements made to institute a committee to recommend spending cuts and/or revenue increases, and execute across the board spending cuts should this committee fail to deliver or government fail to approve it’s recommendations. Now we find ourselves in the critical-analytical news cycle that we knew would follow: battle lines are drawn (again); pundits restate events, debunking or promulgating facts and fictions; both sides paint themselves as “winners”, or, say they rolled a Gimel (and, maybe, say that the other side rolled a Nun).

Were any near- and long-term concerns addressed? Are there criteria for winning and losing in this situation? Who rolled a Gimel? Who rolled a Nun? As a nation, did we roll a Gimel or a Nun?

And the final question: can a Gimel and a Nun be the same?

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  1. A gimel and a nun spell gan or garden.

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