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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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אכל תשברו מאתם בכסף ואכלתם... כי ד אלקים ' ברכך בכל מעשה ידיך

You shall purchase food from them for money so that you may eat… For Hashem, your G-d, has blessed you in all your hard work. (2: 6,7)

Rashi explains that Hashem has provided you with ample funds, so that you can pay for the food that you receive from Eisav’s descendants. If Hashem provides, it would be ingratitude on your part to ask for food without paying for it. Horav Moshe Chevroni, zl, derives from here a powerful lesson concerning the meaning of gratitude. When a Jew has the means, yet he presents himself as destitute and in need of assistance, he defames Hashem.  He makes it appear that the Almighty does not provide for His subjects. This applies (I assume) not only before gentiles, but even…

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אלה הדברים אשר דבר משה אל כל ישראל

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

Rashi explains that the term “these words,” applies to the words of rebuke which Moshe Rabbeinu spoke to the Jewish people shortly before he took leave of them. Because the Torah here lists many of the places in which the nation angered Hashem, Moshe put his words vaguely, mentioning the places through intimation, out of respect for the honor of the nation. Administering rebuke, regardless of its nature, is often a double-edged sword. Rebuke expressed in the wrong manner hurts a person, often causing him irreparable shame. One of the most difficult aspects of rebuke is demonstrating to the subject…

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איכה אשא לבדי טרחכם ומשאכם וריבכם

How can I carry alone your troublesomeness, your burdensomeness, and your contentiousness? (1:12)

Parashas Devarim, which is also known as Shabbos Chazon, is read on the Shabbos prior to Tishah B’Av. One of the reasons for this tradition is the above pasuk, which begins with the word, eichah, “How?” This coincides with the Eichah yashvah vadad,”How did she (Klal Yisrael/Yerushalayim) sit alone?” the opening pasuk of Megillas Eichah, the Book of Lamentations, which is read on Tisha B’Av. The Midrash teaches, “Three prophesied with the word Eichah: Moshe Rabbeinu; Yishayahu; and Yirmiyahu. Moshe said, Eichah esa levadi, “How can I carry alone?” Yishayahu said, Eichah haysah l’zonah, “How did she become like a…

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