Friday, July 12, 2013

Parshat Devarim - Moshe Rabbeinu - Our Teacher

Congratulations! We've made it to the last of the 5 Books of the Torah. This is an interesting book - one given over to the assembled Jewish People by Moses himself, in his own words. This is explained by the Vilna Gaon.
The first four Books were heard directly from the mouth of the Holy One, Blessed is He, through the throat of Moses. Not so Deuteronomy. Israel heard the words of this Book the same way they heard the words of the prophets who came after Moses. The Holy One, Blessed is He, would speak to the prophet today and on a later day he would go and make the vision known to Israel. Accordingly, at the time the prophet spoke to the people, the word of God had already been removed from him. So, too, the Book of Deuteronomy was heard from the moth of Moses himself. (Artscroll, The Stone Edition Chumash pg. 938)
As the commentary in the Chumash goes on to say, "Moses was the speaker. This is indicated by the fact that is Deuteronomy, Moses says, "Hashem [G-d] spoke to me" (1:42, 2:9, 3:2), whereas the constant refrain in the rest of the Torah is "Hashem spoke to Moses." (Artscroll, The Stone Edition Chumash pg. 938)

I find this fascinating. Moshe is described as Rabbeinu - Our Teacher, he is NOT described as the one who G-d used to lead us out of Egypt, NOT described the one who split the sea and destroying the Egyptian armies, NOT even described as the one who interceded on the behalf of the Jewish People when we made mistakes.

Moshe's words are included alongside G-d's words, they are part of the Torah, why? It's simply because next to G-d, no one else in our long history loved us more than he did. He loved us as a parent and as a teacher - rolled into one. We became a People under Moses. He took the Israelites from their "infancy" of being slaves (with mindset to match) into their "adulthood" - as a free people under G-d. That journey required guidance, teaching, reviewing, meeting the needs of all the people, more teaching, more reviewing, and a whole lot of patience and love. No small feat indeed.

Good Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom!

Chief Rabbi Sacks on Devarim
The Future is in Our Hands
Constructive Criticism

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