Parsha – Devarim

This week we start reading the last book of Moshe, Devarim. In this book Moshe recalls the children of Israels journey from the bondage of Mitzrayim {Egypt} to the desert to the foot of Har Sinai where they received the Torah from Hashem. In his recalling these journeys he gently rebukes them for their infidelity against the Almighty. Rashi explains that Moshe used special names for the places which they camped at to remind them of the transgressions which they committed. For example the places Hazeroth and Di-Zahav {enough gold} remind us of the insurrection of Korah and the sin of the golden calf.

By using the names of the places and not explicitly spelling out the particular sin showed that Moshe was not trying to shame the nation, just trying to remind them that they are capable of such things. It is notable that the people whom Moshe was rebuking were not even the ones who did the transgressions, that generation has already died in the wilderness.

It is also important to remember that Moshe only rebuked the nation only a short time before his death, because we learn from Jacob who rebuked his sons right before he died. Also Moshe made sure to smite Sichon, king of the Amorites and Og, king of Bashan before rebuking the nation. This way his words had more power because they were reminded of Moshes great acts of bravery for his people.

Moshe then recalls how he set up a system of judges and a justice system. As it is written:

11. May the Lord God of your forefathers add to you a thousandfold as many as you are, and may He bless you, as He spoke concerning you!
12. How can I bear your trouble, your burden, and your strife all by myself?
13. Prepare for yourselves wise and understanding men, known among your tribes, and I will make them heads over you.
14. And you answered me and said, ‘The thing you have spoken is good for us to do.’
15. So I took the heads of your tribes, men wise and well known, and I made them heads over you, leaders over thousands, leaders over hundreds, leaders over fifties, and leaders over tens, and officers, over your tribes.
16. And I commanded your judges at that time, saying, “Hear [disputes] between your brothers and judge justly between a man and his brother, and between his litigant.
17. You shall not favor persons in judgment; [rather] you shall hear the small just as the great; you shall not fear any man, for the judgment is upon the Lord, and the case that is too difficult for you, bring to me, and I will hear it.”
18. And I commanded you at that time all the things you should do.

Then we recall the incident of the spies:

23. And the matter pleased me; so I took twelve men from you, one man for each tribe.
24. And they turned and went up to the mountain, and they came to the valley of Eshkol and spied it out.
25. And they took some of the fruit of the land in their hand[s] and brought it down to us, brought us back word, and said, “The land the Lord, our God, is giving us is good.”
26. But you did not want to go up, and you rebelled against the commandment of the Lord, your God.
27. You murmured in your tents and said, ‘”Because the Lord hates us, He took us out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand[s] of the Amorites to exterminate us.”
28. Where shall we go up? Our brothers have discouraged us, saying, “A people greater and taller than we; cities great and fortified up to the heavens, and we have even seen the sons of Anakim there.”
29. And I said to you, “Do not be broken or afraid of them.
30. The Lord, your God, Who goes before you He will fight for you, just as He did for you in Egypt before your very eyes,
31. and in the desert, where you have seen how the Lord, your God, has carried you as a man carries his son, all the way that you have gone, until you have come to this place.
32. But regarding this matter, you do not believe the Lord, your God,

The children were not loving their father because they had fear of the real danger which loomed before them. Hashem had made them a promise and delivered them from bondage and yet they still feared the giants which inhabited the land. It was because of this that his anger flared against the generation and the men were doomed to die there.

Then Moshe goes on to recall the story of the journeys through Moab and Heshbon, how he requested free passage through the land and was denied access. How the Almighty was with them in all their battles. Finally Moshe explains how Reuben and Gad will possess the land on the other side of the Jordan.

Shabbat Shalom!


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