Parashat Devarim // “The Words”

- ל ה ח -

How should we share our abundance with the world?

Moses announces that he will not lead the people into the Promised Land

“These be the words which Moses spake unto all Israel on this side Jordan…And I spake unto you at that time, saying, I am not able to bear you myself alone: The LORD your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude. (The LORD God of your fathers make you a thousand times so many more as ye are, and bless you, as he hath promised you!) How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife?” Deut. 1:9 – 12

  • The Book of Deuteronomy is essentially a long speech in which Moses recounts the different stages of the Israelites’ journey and foresees what will happen to them once they arrive in the land of Israel. Moses gazes at the land of Israel and accepts that he will not merit living in it. However, this understanding doesn’t depress him. Rather, it reinforces his sense of mission. 
  • Before his passing, Moses describes the journey the Israelites have taken, as well as the laws and legacy he intends for them to honor. At this point, Moses has been prevented from entering the land, is coming closer to his dying day, and has already appointed Joshua as his successor. However, Moses doesn’t succumb to pride. Instead, he continues to demonstrate extreme devotion and magnanimity. In his final statement, Moses underscores the importance of spiritual progress over individualistic or tangible endeavors

Moses asks the Israelites to preserve their systems of law and justice

“Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us” Deut. 1:27

  • The Book of Deuteronomy is essentially Moses’ long address to the people. Its main theme is God’s vision for Israel. The image that arises from this text is not only one of a prophet who successfully guides his followers through harsh situations – but also that of a highly influential educator. Throughout his speech, Moses lays out his doctrine of leadership. Victory and success, however glorious, are secondary to educating, loving, and inspiring followers. The model society and ethical system envisioned by Moses can be established only by kindling the spirits of the people.

Pearls of Divine Wisdom: “The Words”

  • At this point, Moses’ wisdom reaches its highest point. He manages to completely crush his own ego, see God’s will only, and focus on all aspects of reality (“the bigger picture”).
  • Moses sets aside his own wishes and achievements. This is the greatest form of selflessness – concentrating solely on what’s really important.
  • We must ultimately swallow our pride and stop focusing on our personal achievements. What is truly important is our spiritual endeavor – the journey is evermore important and beautiful than any concrete accomplishment.
  • From atop Mount Nebo, Moses sees the abundance of the Promised Land and the divine light emanating from everything there. We must transcend our personal dimension and focus on the greater plan – which is the true essence of our life. Additionally, we must see the blessing behind every failure. 
  • A true leader must be a source of inspiration. They need to show their followers the correct path and encourage them to study. Only in this way can a model society be built.
  • Great leadership manifests itself in the leader’s love for all people. We must not succumb to prejudice and negative criticism. The long road – receiving, loving, and forgiving – is the right one.

Stability is achieved when we remain constant in our spiritual work, regardless of the volatility and disorder surrounding us.