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Deuteronomy (Devarim).

This is the last volume of the Chumash. It is the record of the final will of our teacher Moshe (Moses).

The book begins in the final weeks of Moshe's life, which was the Jews' fortieth year in the desert, just before their entry into the land of Israel. The book takes the form of a leader giving a loving, yet sometimes fiery farewell speech to his people. Moshe pleads, reasons, and preaches, using every tool imaginable to convince us to stick to the commandments of the Torah.

The speech teaches us how fragile a human being's loyalty can be how much effort is needed to keep to any path... even a path chosen and commanded by G-d Himself.

"And guard yourselves lest you should forget the L-rd your G-d, so as not to keep His commandments..." (chapter 8, verse 11).

It is a theme repeated over and over again in Devarim: watch yourselves very carefully, lest you should slip; lest you should fail to keep even the most obvious of commandments.

But it also shows us the intense love Moshe must have had for us... and the respect and awe we had for him. For only someone who loves like a father will make such an effort to chastise his child, and only for something which must have been very important. And only a loving nation would quietly listen to and try to absorb the rebuke. Great men have been killed or imprisoned for saying things far less insulting than: "And in this matter you didn't believe in the L-rd your G-d." (chapter 1, 32)

"And also with me the L-rd became angry because of you." (chapter 1, 37)

"And you should know that it was not in your merit that the L-rd your G-d gave you this good land to inherit, for you are a stiff necked people Remember and do not forget that you provoked the L-rd your G-d to anger in the wilderness, from the day that you left the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious with the L-rd." (chapter 9, 6 7)

Devarim is also called "Mishne Torah" literally translated as the "repetition of the Torah." Although there are 199 new commandments (Mitzvos) counted in Devarim, there are many passages that seem only to repeat ideas and Mitzvos mentioned before in the Chumash. The entire giving of the Torah and G-d's proclaiming to us the ten commandments is also repeated here (chapter 5), seemingly without purpose (as though we had forgotten since the last time)!

The truth is though, that according to Jewish tradition, there isn't an extra word, letter or vowel in the entire Tanach. Even those passages containing nothing more than lists of names contain storehouses of information (see the Gemara Pesachim 62b). Close examination of the book of Devarim (especially with the classical commentators and with the many sources from the oral Torah) will reveal whole new dimensions to the Mitzvos we thought we already knew. There's nothing extra there either.

Don't think it will all come easily. The Torah is one of those things that we are told is acquired only through suffering and hard work. Even for seasoned scholars there are passages that take time to understand and categorize. But if one works at it hard enough, somewhere, somehow, a reason will be found for every (apparently) extra word.

How was the Word of G-d transmitted to us? How do we know that the "transmitter" didn't make it up? Why can't we add or take away parts...? The Chumash ends with words that place the whole Torah in context.

"There never arose a prophet in Israel like Moshe who knew G-d face to face (There was never such a prophet who could perform signs like) all the signs and wonders that G-d sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all of his land And (never such a prophet with such influence as with) the strong hand and to the great fear that Moshe made in the eyes of all Israel."

Who was it that transmitted the Torah to us? Moshe, the prophet who was closer to G-d than any other human being. Why can't anyone change the Torah? Because no one can ever reach Moshe's level of prophecy, therefore, we could have no reason to believe any new version over that of the original. Why should we believe Moshe? Because he did all these things, all the miracles and signs. He did them, not in private, but in the eyes of all of Israel! The whole nation saw it. They didn't just hear about it -- they saw it. And then they taught what they had seen to their children...


Rabbi Boruch Clinton teaches at the Ottawa Torah Institute yeshiva high school and Machon Sarah high school for girls (both in Ottawa, Canada). You may reach him with comments and questions at bclinton@torah.org.

You can now read some of Rabbi Clinton's essays on Torah life at http://www.ncf.ca/~es625/essays

You can also buy his collection of essays on the Book of Shmuel (Samuel) in printed form at www.lulu.com/marbitzmedia

Copyright 2000 by Rabbi Boruch Clinton and Project Genesis, Inc.

 






ARTICLES ON DEVARIM AND THE THREE WEEKS:

View Complete List

No Empty Matter
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5766

The Speech That Never Ends
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5764

Moshe's Personal Assessment
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5771

> Falsehood's Foothold
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5763

How?
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5761

If only . . .
Shlomo Katz - 5771

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Choosing a Vision
- 5768

Payment in Full
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5769

Only the Shadow Knows
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5764

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Eisav's Reward
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5759

The Secret to Rebuke
Shlomo Katz - 5772

Fix the World
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5759

ArtScroll

When Moshiach Comes
Rabbi Label Lam - 5768

Taking Stock
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5757

Speaking Louder
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5756

That's Not What Friends Are For
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5772



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ARTICLES ON DEVARIM AND THE THREE WEEKS:

View Complete List

Fear Itself
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5758

Utilizing our Gifts Properly
Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky - 5764

17th of Tammuz: Why We Fast - Part 2
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758

ArtScroll

Soft Sell
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5763

Immortal Teacher
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5760

Now I Know My Aleph-Bais
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5764

> The World Within
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5769

Small Favors
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5772

About This We Cry!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5766

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Father Knows Best
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5762

Getting Our Manners In Order
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5764

No Empty Matter
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5766

Looking for a Chavrusah?

How?
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5761

The Purpose of the Fifth Book
Shlomo Katz - 5767

The Laws of Kashrus: Is it techinical or something deeper?
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5773

The Darkest Corner
Rabbi Label Lam - 5763



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information