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The Torah's Weekly Portions
Deuteronomy / Devarim - 101
Posted September, 2000
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This week, we begin the fifth and last book in the Torah - Devarim (Deuteronomy).  As we saw previously, the first Parashah of each Sefer, i.e., Vayikra (Leviticus) and Bamidbar (Numbers), is the name of the Sefer/Book as well.  Parashat Devarim begins with Perek Aleph (Chapter One) and continues through Perek Gimel:pasuk chav-bet (Chapter Three:verse 22).

Devarim starts out in a very interesting way.  It records the chronology of journey of Bnei Yisrael (the Children of Yisrael/Jacob) from the point where they left Mitzrayim (Egypt) to where they stand now - at the door of haAretz (the Land) waiting to cross the Yarden (Jordan).

20. Until Hashem shall give rest to your brethren like yourselves, and they, too, shall possess the Land that Hashem, your God, gives them on the other side of the Jordan; then you shall return, every man to his inheritance that I have given you."

21. I commanded Joshua at that time, saying, "Your eyes have seen everything that Hashem, your God, has done to these two kings; so will Hashem do to all the kings where you cross over:

22. You shall not fear them, for Hashem, your God -- He shall wage war for you.":

In the two previous Parashot, we have considered the special relationship that exists between God, haAretz (the Land), what is today the State of Israel, and Klal Yisrael (the Nation of Israel - the people).  Although I can find no commentaries to support the contention, I believe these three psukim (verses) say something very important.

Pasuk Chav says something most interesting, "Until Hashem shall give rest to your brethren like yourselves, and they, too, shall possess the Land . . ."  Clearly this is not speaking of 3,000 years ago.  If it were, it would never say "to your brethren like yourselves. . ."  All of the brethren are assembled.  There are no brethren like yourselves at this point in time.  The pasuk concludes with the words, " then you shall return, every man to his inheritance that I have given you."  Again, here is the word "return" yet there has not been an initial entry.

Pasuk chav-aleph (verse 21) discusses a situation in which Yehoshuah (Joshua) has seen God vanquish the enemies of Bnei Yisrael (the Children of Yisrael/Jacob) and Hashem further goes on to promise that the same will be done to the kings reigning in the Land at this time.

Most interesting is Pasuk chav-bet (verse 22) because, in a manner of speaking, it repeats chav-aleph (verse 21) but with considerable emphasis in that it states:

22. You shall not fear them, for Hashem, your God -- He shall wage war for you.":

When we consider the War of 1948 and the War of 1952, it is impossible to believe that God was not waging war on behalf of the State of Israel and the Jewish people living there.  How else can we possibly explain such a small army standing off forces that numbered 100 or 1000 to one.

The importance however can be seen be reviewing the previous two Parashot.  In those, we discussed God's Justice with the revision of the Law concerning the Land and the equitable division for all of the Tribes.  Then we considered the most extraordinary nature of haAretz and how it has a sanctity and a vibrancy of Its own because of the special relationship that exists between It and God.  Likewise, last week's Parashah outlined what is necessary if Klal Yisrael is to form an active part of that Union.

What I believe these psukim are saying, when taken in the light of the previous Parashot, is that provided we, as Jews, will uphold our responsibilities to care for each other and never to spill the bloods of our fellow Jews, but moreover to treat each other with respect, that God will keep His promises to us concerning our well-being and our relationship with haAretz.  However, should we choose to ignore those responsibilities, we will forego the relationship and our own well-being.


Translations in Torah Portions of the week are partially taken from the ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash and from Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch Chumash

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