Parashat Devarim-Shabbat Chazon 5775
This week we start a new book, but not just any new book, it is the Mishneh Torah, the Second Torah, as it is called by the Sages. The book of Devarim is not less than a new understanding, how exciting! In terms of narrative, in this book there is not much that happens. Mostly is Moshe speaking… starting a week before his death. He knew he was going to die and he says goodbye to the people of Israel. In front of him only people that were born in the desert, people that didn’t know Pharaoh, that did not cross the Red Sea, that did not stand in Sinai. So Moshe gave them a “previously in the Torah…” speech, a crash course in history. Later he will summarize for them the main principles of the Torah, the essence of the tradition, everything with the purpose of preparing them to enter the Land. He wants to transform them from a nation of wild nomads, dwellers of Sucot and tents, into house owners, responsible farmers, and leaders of a stable and good society. It is interesting to note what Moshe chooses to tell them. The stories we choose to tell to the next generations are the essence of our ideology. Our story is never a history, a truth, but it’s the exact description of our conscience at this present time. And what did Moshe tell them? Says that Moshe “beer et ha Torah hazot”, he explained the Torah to them. The man that was not a man of words before he started his mission, now he is capable of speaking and not stopping, he doesn’t just speak, he explains as well. And beer, to explain, is the same word for a water well, a spring. Moshe transform the Torah into a well! He converts this hard Torah from tablets of stone into a well of living waters! The book of Devarim is the Tikkun, the redemptive experience of Moshe, he explains the journey of his life, understands the great wisdom inside the depths of the well and he teaches this to the People of Israel. You can’t fix what it’s broken, you can only understand the deep wisdom of what it was and then you will understand that actually… nothing really breaks. Whatever happened, G-d was there the whole time, even if we didn’t know, even if we thought everything was broken, everything lost. As you will see, G-d was there all the time and so Moshe starts to draw living waters from the well and quenching the thirst of the People of Israel. He used to hit things with his staff… not anymore; there are only words now, only speech. Only a deep voice coming from the depths of the well and this first message that Moshe brings from it is, of course, the story of their journey. We read from the Torah: “The Lord spoke to us in Horev. He said ‘you have lived long enough by this mountain. Turn, get moving and go to the hill-country of the Emori and all the places near there in the Aravah, the hill-country, the Shfelah, the Negev and by the seashore- the land of the Kenaani, and the Levanon, as far as the great river, the Euphrates River. I have set the land before you! Go in, and take possession of the land the Lord swore to give to your ancestors Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, and their descendants after them”. Moshe didn’t start the story with the Exodus, or the Crossing of the Red Sea, or the Ten Commandments, or the building of the Sanctuary. He starts the story with the forced goodbye, the departure from the Mountain of G-d. A whole year the Children of Israel spent in that Mountain, connected as with an umbilical cord to the source of life. It was good, very good. But then, as with the story of Creation, as with the story of our forefathers, as with every story of a journey, the story that Moshe brings from the well starts with a departure, an expulsion even, leaving for a journey. G-d says “enough! You are staying here too long, go and leave for your own sake!”. That’s the first Mitzvah in the book of Devarim, as the first Mitzvah given to Avraham: “Lech lecha, go for your own sake”. That’s the beginning of every human journey. What about the end? The end is also explained by Moshe, brought up from the well: “and likewise in the desert, where you aw how Hashem your G-d carried you, like a man carries a child, along the entire way you traveled until you arrived at this place”. At the end of the journey it is clear who carried who. There is a famous story about a man making an agreement with G-d, he would believe in G-d if He would be with him in the difficult moments of the man’s life. When the man dies he sees behind and his life’s journey looked like footprints in a beach, but he was disappointed to see that most of the time there were two pairs of footprints, him and G-d’s, but in the most difficult moments of his life there was only one pair of footprints. He says to G-d: “How could you abandon me in those difficult moments?” and the Lord answered to him: “Dear one, in those moments I was carrying you in my arms”. There are days that our personal journey looks like an eternal desert, but you should know that when you thought you were carrying yourself, pushing, advancing, hurrying yourself… the one carrying you was Hashem, your G-d. He carried you in every way that you walked till you came to this place. At the end of the journey, if there is an end, we will do as Moshe. We will leave the staff on the side and we will speak to the rock, talk and explain, talk and make into a well, till living waters come out of it, waters to quench the thirst of everyone going thirsty in life, everyone that ever left for a journey, our loved ones staying behind. And as we go deeper in the well, the sweeter the waters are, till at the end… at the very end, like Moshe, we will be kissed away from this World.