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Home » D'varim Parshah

D’varim: Human Initiative and Divine Inspiration

Submitted by on July 16, 2006 – 3:35 amNo Comment | 18,476 views

The Fifth Book

The first four books of the Torah are presented, as a narrative by G-d, the fifth book, Devarim, is a narrative by Moses.

According to one opinion that Moses first conveyed his message to the Jewish people orally and was later commanded by G-d to transcribe the words and incorporate them into the Torah.

A Precedent for the Oral Tradition

One of the reasons offered for this unique distinction is that the Almighty wanted to establish a precedent for the tradition of oral law within the written Torah itself. Though Moses conceived of these words on his own, because they were based on the Torah’s principles and were consonant with its parameters, G-d incorporated them into the Torah .

This relates not only to those endowed with supernatural intelligence and divine inspiration, such as Moses, but to the layperson as well, as illustrated by the following Talmudic story.

A Tale of two Rabbis

Two venerable sages, Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua, had differing opinions on a particular point of law. During the course of debate Rabbi Eliezer challenged the Almighty himself to confirm his opinion. Within moments an echo descended from heaven declaring Rabbi Eliezer correct. He challenged the river to flow upstream if his view was correct and indeed the river began to flow upstream. He challenged the walls of the study hall to cave in if his view was correct and immediately the walls began to cave.

Throughout, the rabbis remained unconvinced. The Divine intention at Mt. Sinai was to give the Torah to the Jewish people so that we may study it and pursue it via human intelligence and arrive at conclusions based upon those calculations. Ultimately, Rabbi Yehoshua argued, the Torah demands that we apply our minds to the elucidation of its law rather then prophetic vision and miraculous power.

Humbling, yet Empowering

This is a lesson for us, many generations later. The Torah was given to us so that we may study it, reflect upon it and arrive at innovative conclusions that are uniquely our own. As long as we follow the format of rabbinical tradition and do not deviate from the original intention of the written law the Almighty endorses our thoughts and incorporates them into Torah. Furthermore he views them as an extension of his original divine wisdom.

One essential ingredient, crucial to achieving Divine inspiration, is humility. We must not study Torah for personal aggrandizement, consideration or benefit. The primary reason for our study must be the fact that Torah is G-d’s wisdom. We must strive to understand the divine meaning and intention and to forge a mind, heart and soul connection with G-d. In this way, our thoughts will be guided in the proper direction and our efforts will be crowned with success.

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