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אנה אנחנו עלים. אחינו המסו את לבבינו... ואמר אליכם לא תערצון ולא תיראון מהם

To where shall we ascend? Our brothers have melted our hearts… then I said to you, “Do not be broken and do not fear them.” (1:28,29)

Fear can do terrible things to a person. Fear is the antithesis of hope. Hope is the cure for fear. Chazal (Berachos 10a) teach, “Even if a sharp sword is resting on the neck of a person, he should not despair of Heavenly mercy.” One can chas v’shalom, Heaven forbid, be at the threshold of death – he should still hope; he should not throw in the towel and give up hope. Indeed, we experience every moment of life because Hashem wants us to experience it. We are alive during our present fearful state because Hashem wants us to live….

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ותקרבון אלי כלכם ותאמרו נשלחה אנשים לפנינו ויחפרו לנו את הארץ

All of you approached me and said, “Let us send men ahead of us, and let them spy out the land.” (1:22)

The chet ha’meraglim, sin of the spies, is recorded in the annals of our nation’s history as one of its most egregious sins. It was the precursor of what became our national day of mourning, Tishah B’Av. The ring leaders received their due punishment immediately. The rest of the nation, which capitulated to their self-imposed anxiety, saw their punishment carried out over the next thirty-eight years as they perished in the wilderness. What aggravates the sin most is that the spies were all men of repute, distinguished Torah leaders and princes of their individual tribes. How did such spiritual giants…

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ויהי בארבעים שנה... דבר משה אל בני ישראל

It was in the fortieth year… when Moshe spoke to Bnei Yisrael. (1:3)

Rashi comments, “This teaches us that Moshe Rabbeinu did not rebuke them until immediately before his death.” Rashi continues that Moshe derived this from Yaakov Avinu, who also waited until he was on his deathbed to rebuke his sons. Yaakov said, “Reuven, my son, why did I not rebuke you earlier? It was so that you should not leave me and join up with Eisav, my brother.” This comment begs elucidation. Reuven was a holy person who, for the slightest vestige of sin, sat in sackcloth and fasted for a lengthy period of time. To say that rebuke would drive…

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אלה הדברים אשר דבר משה אל כל ישראל... בין פארן ובין תפל ולבן וחצרת ודי זהב

These are the words that Moshe spoke to all Yisrael… between Paran and Tofel and Lavan, and Chatzeiros and Di Zahav. (1:1)

Rashi quotes Chazal, who explain that the names of these cities are actually allusions to specific sins committed by the Jewish People during their sojourn in the Wilderness. When Moshe Rabbeinu mentioned Lavan, he was referring to the manna. Lavan means white. When Klal Yisrael complained about the insubstantial food, ie. manna, they referred to it in a denigrating manner by mentioning its color. Why is the white color of the manna important? Apparently, on some level, their sin was associated with the manna’s white color. What about the color of the manna made their words sinful? The Zera Shimshon…

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אלה הדברים אשר דבר משה אל כל ישראל... בן פארן ובין תפל ולבן וחצרת ודי זהב

These are the words that Moshe spoke to all Yisrael… between Paran and Tofel and Lavan, and Chatzeiros and Di Zahav. (1:1)

A person goes through life living his allotted sum of years – then he passes from this world into the world of eternity. Those who remain, his family and friends, are left with one thing: memories. Yes, all that remains of a person’s life are the memories that he leaves behind. This will endure the test of time. How he wants to be remembered – how he will be remembered – is determined by the way he has lived, by the legacy that he has imparted. Some leave a material/physical legacy – this is how they will be remembered. Others…

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ותשבו ותבכו לפני ד' ולא שמע ד' בקלכם ולא האזין אליכם

Then you retreated and wept before Hashem, but Hashem did not listen to your voice and He did not hearken to you. (1:45)

When you offend someone and all he wants as penance is to see that you are remorseful – is that too much to ask? What if, instead of remorse, you ignore him, thereby compounding the pain: would you be upset if he became angry with you? Would you think less of him if he punished you as a way of getting you to acknowledge your transgression? If so, why is Hashem any different? We act inappropriately; we offend; compound our sin by ignoring our infraction; then we become upset when He punishes us. Obviously, I am leading up to something….

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רב לכם סב את ההר הזה... אתם עוברים בגבול אחיכם בני עשיו... אל תתגרו בם

Enough of your circling this mountain… you are passing through the boundary of your brothers, Bnei Eisav… you shall not provoke them. (2:3,5)

Chazal (Midrash Rabbah 1:15) relate that when Klal Yisrael was about to wage war against the descendants of Eisav, Hashem showed Moshe Rabbeinu the mountain where the Avos, Patriarchs, were buried. Moshe understood that the location of the burial place prevented Klal Yisrael from battling Eisav. Apparently, it was in Eisav’s zechus, merit, for honoring Yitzchak Avinu (and by extension Avraham Avinu). This is the meaning of Rav lachem sov es hahar hazeh; “Enough of your circling this mountain.” This means the mountain provides a reason to consider Eisav to be off limits. This was all the result of his…

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אלה הדברים אשר דבר משה

These are the words that Moshe spoke. (1:1)

These were not random words; rather, they were nuanced words, carefully selected for a purpose. Moshe Rabbeinu’s life was coming to an end. In a short time he would enter the realm of eternity, where he would repose in the shining light of Olam Habba, the World to Come, the world reserved for tzaddikim, the righteous. Thus, Moshe’s words were parting words, lessons, rebuke, messages all couched in ambiguity, veiled in allusion by implying their transgressions through names of places. He did all of this out of respect and sensitivity for the feelings of the people. Why, however, did he…

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אלה הדברים אשר דבר משה אל כל ישראל בעבר הירדן

These are the words that Moshe spoke to all Yisrael on the other side of the Yarden. (1:1)

Rashi explains that, in the last days of his life, Moshe Rabbeinu was giving Klal Yisrael mussar, words of rebuke. Perhaps rebuke is too strong a term. Moshe was guiding them on their future journey, calling to mind their errors of the past. As long as Bnei Yisrael would learn from their earlier mistakes, they would be on a positive road toward spiritual ascendency. Moshe did not spell out in clear terms their mistakes; rather, he alluded to their faults by employing names for non-existent places, but the message was nonetheless clear: the place called Di Zahav refers to an…

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אלה הדברים אשר דבר משה אל כל ישראל בעבר הירדן

These are the words that Moshe spoke to all Yisrael. (1:1)

Moshe Rabbeinu gathered the entire nation (all Yisrael) together to speak to them. The primary purpose of this gathering was to deliver words of rebuke to them for the way they had acted these past forty years. Rashi explains the necessity for having all of Klal Yisrael present, for had he spoken to only part of the people, those who were absent would have said, “Had we been there, we would have rejected him.” Therefore, Moshe called them all together, implying to those who had excuses that they should let them raise their voices and dispute him. We wonder what…

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