Every year, we read Devarim on Shabbat CHAZON which precedes Tishah BeAv. From this, we can appreciate that Parshas Devarim contains a reference to the import of Shabbos Chazon. What is the import of Shabbos Chazon?
The name Chazon has the implication of “vision” or "a spectacle". On this Shabbos, every Jew is shown a vision of the Future Beis HaMikdash from a distance. and how come in this timing? Because when we remember the destruction of it, we naturally and automatically aspire for it to be to rebuild.
The way to look at the light of salvation is precisely from the feeling of pain and lack - of
what would fulfill our lack. As we know, ability always comes from the incapacity, and what a better way to show this to us then a 37-day long speech by Moshe Rabenu, the men who could not speak –the stutterer that is now able to put forth an effective and meaningful summary of what is said by the Holy One to the entire entity of the Israeli nation.
Devarim is the Hebrew word that means ‘words’ or the spoken words. This book of Devarim is also called Mishneh Torah “Repetition of the Torah”. It is a known thing that Moshe wrote all five books, but, as our sages explain, in the first four books Moshe transcribed everything as he received it from G‑d, while in Devarim he says it “in his own words”.
In other words, we have two dimensions to Torah:
a dimension in which both the content and the “packaging” are bestowed from Above
a dimension in which the divine wisdom and will is packaged in “our own words” so that we are becoming “partners in creation” or responsible on extracting it.
Well, past sages would say that G‑d desired a free, independent partner, whose choices are fully his own – I don’t think so. G-d released his children from Eygpt for the purpose of worship Him in the desert. We were never free and we are not free today, every action we make has consequences. We have being free to then later be enslaved again.
We are not independent, for we are part of a collective. Ether it’s our own nation or whether it is humanity in large, part of the work for G-d is to treat the others with dignity and respect, and therefore so also the independent part is not truly accurate. And what about our choices? Our choices are made before we even aware of them, we go in this world while possessing already a spectrum of psychological and cultural attributes. Whether its our family or nation, our geographical location.
None of us is a blank sheet. G‑d wanted true partners to His endeavor, the ones that are aware of all this – the lack of freedom, the lack of independence and the lack of the ability to choose as a free person – because we are obligated to G-d, we do not hesitate and follow the lows of His kingdom.
God have plenty of workers, he created them, they’re called “angels”. The difference between humans and Angels is that the human can chose to be in a state of enslavement out of free will. And the new generation is to be reminded of that, of the past, of their inheritance, of what been promised.
So- First Moshe will remind them - the new generation - of their ancestors Abraham, Isac and Jacob. Then, he repeat unto them the fact he is human himself and therefore could not do it alone. Then he would even suggest undermining his own abilities as a leader – for he is not really the leader, meaning the real leader always was and forever be G-d.
And so he says: “How can I bear your trouble, your burden, and your strife all by myself?” Moshe reminds them he needed people from the nation to help him carry the burden of leadership - wise and understanding men, known among the tribes, which he made as heads over the people. Putting them as judges.
“As a nation, Israel are to be heard by there leader - G-d. He may listen to them but do as He pleases. Either way, they have full responsibility on their actions and decisions.”
And so he continue discussing them lows of the divine: “You shall not favor persons in judgment; [rather] you shall hear the small just as the great; you shall not fear any man, for the judgment is upon the Lord” And so leadership is upon the Lord, and Judgment is upon the Lord. And those two things are important for Moshe to say before the new generation, the one that is about to go inside the land. Then he reminding them of the spies, as something came out from them, a will they had and fulfilled. Meaning – their wishes counts.
In the book of Deuteronomy, precisely in this Devarim Portion, in general, we have a wide-ranging speech of Moshe, covering the history of their collective journey, we have there a set of prophecies and warnings about the future, laws, narratives, a song, and a set of blessings in the end. This speech is giving to us as a comprehensive profound vision of what is it mean to be a holy crowd, dedicated to G-d, choosing G-d as a leader and as a judge.
Moshe received the role of constructing a society that would stand as a role model for humanity in how to combine freedom with order, justice and compassion, individualism with a sense of self-worth, who also cherish and cares for the collective. Any individual has a huge responsibility over the collective, and Moshe is the perfect example for it.
In this portion this is the first time we hear Moshe speak extensively in his own voice, rather than merely as the transmitter of G-d’s words to him. Moshe needed the nation to understand that Judaism or being a part of this nation means being a part of a bigger plan, an “inheritance of the [entire] congregation of Jacob”. To be Israel is to live with the remembrance of G-d and the ancestors throughout time.
Up until then, the gods of the ancient world were seen as a source of power, not justice. Laws were man-made rules for the maintenance of social order. The Israelite were different.
Their laws were not made by their kings - their laws came directly from G-d Himself, creator of the universe and the liberator of humanity from itself. At this defining moment of his life, Moshe understood that, though he would not be physically with the people when they entered the Promised Land, he could still be with them intellectually and emotionally if he gave them the teachings to take with them into the future.
Moshe became the pioneer of perhaps the single greatest contribution of Judaism to the concept of leadership: a leader must give a self-example. A Leader would always be better if he can teach. And then practice what he is preaching. Moshe wasn’t a militant hero, he didn’t demonstrate courage in the field of battle. What Mohse knew was that the most important battles are not military. They are spiritual, moral, cultural. A military victory shifts the pieces on the chessboard of history. While spiritual victory can change lives. A military victory is almost always short-lived. Either the enemy attacks again or a new and more dangerous enemy appears. But spiritual victories can last forever.
Due to his humility, modesty and humbleness, Moshe became a leader not for his time only but for all time. It is not easy to say but the reality is that teachers shape our society, handing on the legacy of the past to those who build the future. That insight sustained Judaism for longer than any other civilization ever existed, began with Moshe in the last month of his life.
In this book we are about to enter.
To find out more about this portion spiritual growth and the needed process enter this weeks lesson.