• Dvar for Devarim (1:1-3:22)

    Parshat Devarim records Moshe recounting the story of the people, including the time we had camped at Har Seir for a while, and were instructed to move on. The Passuk says “you have circled this mountain a lot, now turn northbound” (2:3). Actually, the words literally mean “a lot for you, circle the mountain and turn northbound.” The Kli Yakar explains that Moshe was conveying a totally separate message. He was saying “when you have a lot, hide it” (“tzafon” means north, but “tzafun” means hidden.) Why does the directive include circling the mountain?

    As the Jews prepared to enter a land of “plenty”, it was time to prepare for challenges never faced before. Among those challenges is staying low-key, avoiding provocations and conflict. However, that doesn’t mean being ashamed of who we are and what we represent. As we passed the mountain of Seir, where Esav lived, and as we pass those different from us today, we are instructed to maintain a balance between modesty in what we have and pride in who we are.

  • Dvar for Devarim (1:1-3:22)

    The best part about books is that you can always look back at parts that are either unclear, or parts that you’ve missed or liked, and the Torah is no exception. With that in mind, though, why do we need a whole Sefer (Devarim, the book of Deuteronomy) dedicated to review the first 4 books, when all we’d have to do is look back and examine them? Separately, why would you start a book of review with words of rebuke, as our Parsha does?

    As Rabbi Twerski points out, the answer lies in a quote by Shlomo Hamelech (King Solomon), who said: “A conceited fool has no desire for understanding, but only wants to express his own views (18:2).” What’s the point of a past if we don’t learn from it? And what’s the point of learning from our mistakes if we don’t keep what we’ve learned and integrate it into our future? As we get closer to Tisha B’av, when both Beit Hamikdashim (Temples) were destroyed on the same day, the question applies even more.. Didn’t the Jews learn from the destruction of the first Temple merely a few hundred years prior? Do we learn from the destruction of both Temples so many years later? There’s a whole Sefer in front of us pointing its finger at itself and the four volumes before it, begging us to read it, and read it again, until we find the meaning intended for us, and use it to enforce what we WILL do. It’s the thirst of knowledge of our past that will lead to the accomplishments of our future.

  • Dvar for Devarim (1:1-3:22)

    In Parshat Devarim Moshe recounts placing “ministers over thousands, over hundreds, ministers over fifties, and ministers over tens..”(1:15). If there were leaders governing thousands and hundreds, isn’t it obvious that they would govern fifties and tens? What does the Torah add by including those specifications?

    The Sforno says that there is an implied rebuke in the appointment of judges over Israel, because they could not stop bickering and arguing to the point that every group of ten needed its own personal judge. While the Sforno implies that each person was overly concerned with his own property, in order for an argument to reach the courts, there also needs to be a lack of communication and an inability to reconcile differences.

    If needless hatred begins with a lack of communication, then increased communication can remove the hatred and divisions that remain between us. With proper communication, we can not only properly mourn the Temple’s destruction, but we can also make our own best efforts to ensure that it is rebuilt.

  • Dvar for Devarim (1:1-3:22)

    In Parshat Devarim Moshe recounts placing “ministers over thousands, over hundreds, ministers over fifties, and ministers over tens..”(1:15). If there were leaders governing thousands and hundreds, isn’t it obvious that they would govern fifties and tens? What does the Torah add by including those specifications?

    The Sforno says that there is an implied rebuke in the appointment of judges over Israel, because they could not stop bickering and arguing to the point that every group of ten needed its own personal judge. While the Sforno implies that each person was overly concerned with his own property, in order for an argument to reach the courts, there also needs to be a lack of communication and an inability to reconcile differences.

    If needless hatred begins with a lack of communication, then increased communication can remove the hatred and divisions that remain between us. With proper communication, we can not only properly mourn the Temple’s destruction, but we can also make our own best efforts to ensure that it is rebuilt.

  • Dvar for Devarim (1:1-3:22)

    In Parshat Devarim Moshe recounts placing “ministers over thousands, over hundreds, ministers over fifties, and ministers over tens..”(1:15). If there were leaders governing thousands and hundreds, isn’t it obvious that they would govern fifties and tens? What does the Torah add by including those specifications?

    The Sforno says that there is an implied rebuke in the appointment of judges over Israel, because they could not stop bickering and arguing to the point that every group of ten needed its own personal judge. While the Sforno implies that each person was overly concerned with his own property, in order for an argument to reach the courts, there also needs to be a lack of communication and an inability to reconcile differences.

    If needless hatred begins with a lack of communication, then increased communication can remove the hatred and divisions that remain between us. With proper communication, we can not only properly mourn the Temple’s destruction, but we can also make our own best efforts to ensure that it is rebuilt.

  • Daily Aliya for Devarim, Shvii (7th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe delineates the borders of the lands allotted to the aforementioned tribes. He then repeats the instructions he gave to these tribes to cross the Jordan together with their brethren and participate in the battle against the Canaanites before returning to their land on the eastern bank of the Jordan. Joshua, who will lead the nation into Israel, is enjoined not to be fearful of the battles which he will face, because “it is the L-rd, your G‑d, who is fighting for you.”

  • Daily Aliya for Devarim, Shishi (6th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe recalls how Sichon led his nation in battle against the Israelites. The Israelites were victorious and took possession of his land. When the Bashanites then attacked, they meet a similar fate. The lands of the Emorites and the Bashanites were given to the tribes of Reuven, Gad, and half the tribe of Menashe.

    While this Aliya contains many recounts of the victories and territorial conquests, there is a hint of something more. In passuk (verse) 6, it says that we destroyed Og as we destroyed Cheshbon, but it says it in present tense! We continually destroy Og (and Cheshbon), which apparently represent inherent character flaws that we are opposed to. In future posts on this Aliya I’ll have to find out what these nations represented, so we can fully understand what it is that we rid the world of. Suggestions welcome.

  • Daily Aliya for Devarim, Chamishi (5th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe fast-forwards 38 years. The generation which left Egypt had perished. Now their children were ready to enter Canaan. But first G‑d instructs the Israelites regarding three nations whose land was off-limits for them: Seir (Edom), Moab and Amon. These lands were the rightful inheritance of the descendants of Esav and Lot. Instead, the Israelites circled these lands and approached the land of Sichon, king of the Emorites, and requested passageway through his land. Sichon refused the Israelites’ request.

    While recapping the events of the generation that died in the desert, the Passuk refers to them as “men of war”, which Rashi explains to mean that they were eligible to fight because they were between the ages of 20 and 60. But just because they were eligible to fight didn’t necessarily entitle them “men of war”, unless it’s a vague hint at the personalities of those people, choosing to be confrontational, argumentative, and generally controversial, qualities that often gets people into trouble, and elicits labels people don’t always deserve.

  • Daily Aliya for Devarim, Revii (4th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe continues: At that time G‑d instructed the Israelites to reverse course and head back to the desert. Realizing their dreadful error, a group of Israelites proceeded to advance toward Israel — in the face of Moshe’s objections. Lacking divine protection, they were immediately attacked and massacred by the Emorites. At this point, the Israelites heeded G‑d’s command, and headed back to the Sinai Desert.

    The Emorites attacking the Jews is compared to bees attacking (verse 44), perhaps because they swarmed, maybe because they were merely protecting their home. Rashi says they were compared to bees because just like bees die after they sting, those Emorites similarly died after attacking those Jews. G-d was (and is) protective of us even while meting out punishment!

  • Dvar for Devarim (1:1-3:22)

    The best part about books is that you can always look back at parts that are either unclear, or parts that you’ve missed or liked, and the Torah is no exception. With that in mind, though, why do we need a whole Sefer (Devarim, the book of Deuteronomy) dedicated to review the first 4 books, when all we’d have to do is look back and exam them? Also, why would you start a book of review with words of rebuke, as our Parsha does?

    As Rabbi Twerski points out, the answer lies in a quote by Shlomo Hamelech (King Solomon), who said: ” A conceited fool has no desire for understanding, but only wants to express his own views (18:2).” What’s the point of a past if we don’t learn from it? And what’s the point of learning from our mistakes if we don’t keep what we’ve learned and integrate it into our future? As we get closer to Tisha B’av, when both Beit Hamikdashim (Temples) were destroyed ON THE SAME DAY, the question applies even more.. Didn’t the Jews learn from the destruction of the first Temple merely a few hundred years prior? Do we learn from the destruction of BOTH Temples so many years later? There’s a whole Sefer in front of us pointing its finger at itself and the four volumes before it, begging us to read it, and read it AGAIN, until we find the meaning intended for us, and use it to enforce what we WILL do. It’s the thirst of knowledge of our past that will lead to the accomplishments of our future.

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