Headlines »

June 8, 2024 – 11:29 pm | Comments Off on The Ultra Orthodox Draft40 views

Amid Israel’s war in Gaza, there is talk of drafting yeshivah students into the army to bolster its ranks. On Shavuot, we celebrate the anniversary of receiving the Torah, so I want to write about the role of Torah in war. The Torah is not just a dusty old book …

Read the full story »
Parsha Insights

Where Biblical law and Torah tale is brought vividly to life


The Jewish perspective on topical and controversial subjects

Life Cycle

Probing for meaning in our journey and its milestones.

Yearly Cycle

Discover depth and mystique in the annual Jewish festivals

Rabbi’s Desk

Seeking life’s lessons in news items and current events

Home » D'varim Parshah

Devarim: Food for Thought for your Dinner Table

Submitted by on August 3, 2008 – 5:12 pmNo Comment | 4,446 views

Sunday: Seventy Languages

Why did Moshe translate the Torah into seventy languages when most Jews did not speak these languages? Hebrew is G-d’s tongue and is therefore a natural conduit for holiness. Accordingly, when studied in Hebrew the holiness of the Torah permeates our minds and hearts. Moshe, who gave us the Torah, strove to ensure that Jews would be able to study Torah irrespective of their vernacular without forfeiting the holiness of Torah. This was accomplished through translating the Torah into all extant languages of his day. Likutei Sichos

Monday: In Abundance

“G-d will multiply you a thousand times and bless you as He spoke to you.” Our blessings are due to the merit of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs. When a child is blessed on account of his forbearers the blessing is not abundant because the child is himself unworthy. Moshe’s blessing to the Jewish people was that G-d should multiply our blessings as if His blessings were addressed directly to us rather than through our forefathers. This is also reflected in the text of the Amidah. “He remembers the kindness of our forefathers and He blesses their children with love.” He does not bless us by rote on account of our forefathers He blesses us with enthusiasm, abundance and love. Ksav Sofer

Tuesday: Concealed Reasons

Concerning the episode of the spies the Torah states that G-d grew angry with Moshe on account of the people and therefore denied Moshe entry into Israel. The Torah informs us on several occasions that Moshe was not punished for the sin of the spies or that of the Golden Calf; but on account of hitting the rock instead of speaking to it. Why does the Torah suggest that it was on account of the spies?

When a nation is punished, the leader is culpable. Though Moshe was not guilty of their actual sins he was responsible for his people. The episode of the rock was merely G-d’s pretext to ensure that Moshe, the leader, would remain in the desert with his people. The decree against his entry into the land was issued when he struck the rock, but it was first determined when the spies were sent. Malbim

Wednesday: Grand Entry

“And your children of whom you said they will be taken as captives . . . they will enter [the land] and to them I will give it and they will inherit it.” This verse contains three promises of entry. The children will enter, be given and inherit the land. The first refers to the first entry during the times of Yehoshua. The second entry refers to the return of the exiles from Babylon in 350 BCE when the Second Temple was built. The third promise refers to the eventual entry that will occur with the coming of Moshiach when Jews from all corners of the world will assemble in the Holy Land. Eliyahu Ki Tov

Thursday: Pretention

After sojourning at Sinai for nearly a year, G-d said to Moshe, “You have circled the mountain long enough, turn northward.” This verse is interpreted allegorically. The mountain symbolizes G-d and circling the mountain refers to the time of our exile when we attempt to connect to G-d, but are stymied by the lack of the sacrificial rite. During this time G-d encourages us to turn northward.

The Hebrew word for north Tazfon, shares etymological roots with the word Tzafun, concealed. During the period of our exile, when we are subject to the whim of nations, it is not prudent to parade our meagre blessings in public for that only serves to enrage our enemies. Better to conceal our wealth and success than to act pretentiously in the face of enemies. There will come a time when our enemies will be subdued and our success unrivalled. At that time we will have no reason to fear, but that time has yet to arrive. Kli Yakar

Friday: Keeping a Promise

The Torah recounts the battles and conquest of the Bashanite lands. In the course of the description we are told that the lands of Bashan were once called the land of Rephaim. The Torah is not a book of historical tidbits. Every detail is intended to enlighten and inform.

The astute student asks how Moshe validated the conquest of Bashan when these lands, which lie on the east bank of the Jordan, were not promised to our forefather Avraham. Of course G-d instructed Moshe to conquer these lands, but this only devolves the question unto G-d. Why did G-d not promise these lands to Avraham? In response the Torah informs us that these lands were indeed included in the promise to Avraham. One of the ten lands promised to Avraham was that of Rephaim. This land was seemingly omitted from the list of lands later conquered by the Jews. The Torah thus informs us that the land of Rephaim refers to the land of Bashan, which was indeed conquered by the Jews. Orach Chayim

Shabbat: Trust in G-d

Moshe reminded the two tribes that remained on the East bank of the Jordan of their promise to join their brethren during the upcoming war. “I said to you at that time . . . G-d will give this land to you as an inheritance, armed shall you pass before your brothers across the borders of the country.”

If G-d was going to deliver the land as an inheritance why was it necessary to bolster the army with two additional tribes? The answer lies in the phrase Moshe chose to employ. He did not tell them to fight alongside their brothers, but to pass before them armed. The point was to bolster their morale. When they saw that those, who already had a home, joined them in battle they would see the confidence of these two tribes that the war would be easily won. Otherwise, those with homes would not have rushed enthusiastically into battle. If they would embark unto war with such faith, Moshe was certain that actual fighting would hardly be necessary as G-d would surely deliver the land into their hands. Toras Moshe Alshich

Edited by Rabbi Yeruchem Eilfort, Director Chabad at La Cost