For the week ending 20 July 2013 / 12 Av 5773

Parshat Va'etchanan

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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Although Moshe is content that Yehoshua will lead the nation, Moshe nevertheless prays to enter the Land of Israel in order to fulfill its special mitzvot. Hashem refuses. Moshe reminds Bnei Yisrael of the gathering at Sinai when they received the Torah that they saw no visual representation of the Divine, but only the sound of words. Moshe impresses on Bnei Yisrael that the Sinai revelation took place before an entire nation, not to a select elite, and that only the Jews will ever claim that Hashem spoke to their entire nation. Moshe specifically enjoins Bnei Yisrael to "pass over" the Sinai event to their children throughout all generations.

Moshe predicts, accurately, that when Bnei Yisrael dwell in Eretz Yisrael they will sin and be scattered among all the peoples. They will stay few in number but will eventually return to Hashem.

Moshe designates three "refuge cities" to which an inadvertent killer may flee. Moshe repeats the 10 Commandments and then teaches the Shema, the central credo of Judaism, that there is only One G-d. Moshe warns the people not to succumb to materialism and thus forget their purpose as a spiritual nation. The parsha ends with Moshe exhorting Bnei Yisrael not to intermarry when they enter Eretz Yisrael, as they cannot be a treasured and holy nation if they intermarry, and they will become indistinguishable from the other nations.


Nickel and Dime

"For you shall not cross this Jordan" (3:27)

A dark night. A passenger jumps down from a bus. As he jumps some small change falls from his pocket.

Too embarrassed to ask the driver to wait so he can use the headlights of the bus to collect his nickels and dimes from the sidewalk, the passenger quickly reaches into his pocket and places a twenty-dollar bill on the ground in the vicinity of his small change. He shouts to the driver "Hold the bus! There’s a twenty dollar bill of mine somewhere down here on the ground!"

In the bright headlamps the passenger sees not only the twenty-dollar bill but the scattered small change as well, and he quickly scoops them both up and is on his way.

G-d was adamant that Moshe should not enter the Land of Israel. One reason was that Moshe should be buried in the desert along with his generation so that his personal merit would ensure that they would be arise at the time of the Resurrection of the Dead.

G-d wanted Moshe to be the twenty-dollar bill amongst the small change to make sure that not a nickel would get lost.

  • Source: based on Devarim Rabba 2:5

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