Make a Fixed Time for Study

עשה תורתך קבע – אמור מעט ועשה הרבה

These Words: a Second Telling – אֵלֶּה הַדְּבָרִים

Posted by rabbiart on August 6, 2008

Two months remain of the forty years. Now they stand  בַּמִּדְבָּר בָּעֲרָבָה מוֹל סוּף (bamidbar aravah mul Suf) in the “wilderness” opposite Suph.  Rashi observes that the Israelites are not in the “wilderness”  i.e. the Sinai peninsula or the Negev desert because they are actually in the plains of Moab – on the Eastern side of the Jordan River.  “Wilderness” is a reminder of all the places where Israel rebelled in the wilderness. (Think of all the incidents in Sefer BaMidbar aka Numbers).

In general, Rashi takes this first speech as a set of rebukes for all the times when the Israelites (us? them?) didn’t quite do what HaShem and Moshe were telling them.  (Shocking, isn’t it!) Read the first part of Moshe’s speech and see for yourself.

Rashi notes the “great leap forward” between the first eleven days (verse two) and the fortieth year (verse three).  The trip should have been over very quickly. Why did it take forty years?  “Because you sinned, He made you travel around Mount Seir for forty years.”

As we begin our reading of Devarim it is helpful to have a second Bible open to the books of Shemot, VaYikra, and BaMidbar.  Compare Moshe’s recounting of events with the “story in its original form.” What is the same, what is different in the remembering and recounting of incidents which have passed? Moshe mentions two specific stories in this chapter; the appointment of judges, and the incident of the spies. Why does he recall these two incidents?  Does he recall them for the same reason, or different reasons?  What can we learn from this act of remembering?

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