The Torah reading cycle sits at a strange time. While we still have almost two months to go before we finish reading and start again, the story is almost over. We sit literally days before Moshe Rabbeinu will ascend Mount Nebo and be taken from the People of Israel. If this were a TV series it would probably be criticised as too slow.
Why, then, does the Torah take so long now to reach the end of Moshe's life and begin the next chapter (and book) of the Jewish people's journey? The simple answer is that this is the bit that counts. We often think of the Torah as being about the stories, the drama or even the laws which dominate the first four books. In truth, they are secondary.
The moral lessons, the summing up and moving forward are actually more important. We are fundamentally a religion that is forward-looking. We believe that the core of our mission lies in what we do next, not what we did yesterday. Moshe Rabbeinu is now giving the lessons and the takeaways from forty years in the desert. Without this process, there would be no point in the whole journey. There is also a reason why we always read this part of the Torah at this time of year. It is time now to take stock of what we have done and reflect. Did we do the right thing? Did we make the right decisions? Were the outcomes what we wanted? It is only by undertaking this process that we can continue to move forward and progress over the year to come.