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Insights to Parshat D'varim

Updated on July 12, 2010

Devarim - The last month of Moses Life

Parshat Devarim is the beginning Parsha (section) of the book of Devarim (Deuteronomy). Devarim in Hebrew means things or words; they are the words that Moshe (Moses) speaks to the children of Israel. The first four books of the Chumash (5 books of Moses), are written in the manner where it says that HaShem (G-d) spoke to Moshe, however in this book Moshe makes references that HaShem spoke to me (1:42, 2:9, and 3:2). In other words the first 4 of the five books is in HaShem’s perspective given to Moshe, and here it is Moshe’s understanding of what HaShem told him. Therefore, the Greek name of Deuteronomy is correct since this is a compound word, where Deuto means two and nomos means law, and when they are put together the new word means a second telling of the law.

It is important to remember that HaShem is in the details of scripture. There is a Jewish Proverb that says it is for HaShem to conceal a matter and for a King to search it out. The word for King in Hebrew has a root which is basic transliterated as MLK, and the word for a fool has the root LMK. The word for heart transliterated is Lev and the word for mind is Mo’ach. The Lev starts with a L, and the mind starts with a M. Therefore, if one puts the L before the M that person is a LMK, a fool, and the one that puts the mind in front of heart, the M in front of the L then that person is a MLK, which is a King. So therefore it is very important to remember that HaShem is in the details, and let us all be Kings and search out what HaShem has hidden for us.

Now let’s look at the details in Devarim 1:3 it says, “It was in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first of the month, when Moses spoke to the Children of Israel, according to everything that HaShem commanded him to them,” What can we learn from this? This verse verifies that the children of Israel were in the wilderness for forty years. Since, Moshe was not allowed to go into the land of Israel. In addition, this verse tells us that Moshe wrote this book a month before HaShem took Moshe from this world, and Yohashua (Joshua) was to lead the children of Israel into the promised land. In many ways this book is Moshe’s farewell to the Children of Israel.

Moshe found it very important to stress certain points to the children of Israel. One of the first things that Moshe stresses to the people is that of leadership, and the rule of Judges.  Verse 17 says, “You shall not show favoritism in judgment, small and great alike shall you hear; you shall not tremble before any man, for the judgment is G-d’s any matter that is too difficult for you, you shall bring to me and I shall hear it.”

There are two things that I would like to stress in this:

1) “You shall not show favoritism” – as we say in America justice is blind. This is how it should be, but way to often it is not and we have to deal with political activists from the bench of the court. Judges need to be of a humble spirit with the recognition that they are only there to announce the judgment, which brings me to the second point,

2) “for the Judgment is G-d’s”, and this is because the Torah law is HaShem’s. Judges need to be humble. There is a perspective for how a judge is to judge. The judge is to picture that there is a double edge sword over his head and hell underneath him and if he renders false judgment, meaning judgment for his own gain, then the sword will strike him and the judge will fall into the pit of hell. The severe punishment awaits the judge because the judge stands in a place that is reserved for HaShem and that is the place of Judgment.

We are required to submit ourselves to our leaders and authorities. How can a person submit themselves to the leaders and authorities of governments that are corrupt, whether we are talking about a local authority or on a National level? There has to be trust for the authorities that are appointed over us. This is what Moshe was teaching to the people with the appointment of judges. He was trying to instill into the people the trust, and he was able to do this because of his greatness.

Honor, integrity, ethics these are all the things we as a people need to keep close to our hearts. Let HaShem be the Judge because HaShem is the true Judge, and we need to keep ourselves humble unto him, and focus on taking care of others.


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