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Can You Feel It?

By: Rav Aharon E. Wexler

When we learn the parsha week after week it is very easy to miss thematic ideas that the Torah would like us to notice. Sefer Devarim for instance is really one long monologue given by Moshe Rabbeinu. After forty years in the desert, Moshe delivers his farewell address. Sefer Devarim, sometimes called Mishneh Torah for its repetition of many of the mitzvot, might as well be known as Sefer Eretz Yisrael.  After all, not all the mitzvot are repeated, but rather only those that are pertinent to setting up a Torah society in Eretz Yisrael. Thus its major theme is Yishuv Ha’aretz.

This theme comes to a climax in our parsha. In it we are warned that Eretz Yisrael is unlike other lands. It has the “eyes of HaShem upon it from the beginning of the year till its end.”

Moshe knows that the people he has led for the last forty years are "stiff-necked" and that he will no longer be there to lead them. Thus, his final speech must be a message so strong and inspiring that it will continue to echo thousands of years later. He is so successful in this mission that Hashem incorporates his address into His own words and eternalizes it as Sefer Devarim.

I suggest that you take the time to read the Sefer as a whole unit and realize that this really was Moshe’s last speech. Only then will you feel that it is the history of a real people, your people. You will then feel what our ancestors felt in the hot desert after forty years of wandering. You will be terrified by the voice of God when you stand before Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments, and you will worry in anticipation of the enemy you will have to fight when you arrive in the Promised Land. There you will bring your first fruits to Jerusalem, and with the basket on your shoulder you will tell the Kohen how your father was an Aramean refugee who went down to Egypt in small numbers. You will remind the Kohen how the Egyptians dealt harshly with you, oppressed you and enslaved you. You will then proceed to tell the Kohen how you cried out to Hashem your God and how He heard you and brought you to this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. Sefer Devarim is our connection to Eretz Yisrael standing on one foot.  

Shabbat Shalom




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