Parashat Devarim

When Hashem informed Moshe that he would die after battling Midayn, Moshe requested, "Please, Hashem, allow me the permission to review the entire Torah with the people before I pass away! I wish to clarify any difficulties which they may have and lead them straightly to the detailed laws of the Torah."

Hashem honored Moshe's request. On the first of Shevat, thirty days before Moshe's death, Hashem told Moshe, "Assemble the people to review the mitzvoth with them, and to instruct them in those mitzvot which they have not yet heard from you."

Moshe began to review and teach the mitzvoth of the Torah. He explained them to Bnei Yisrael-not only in the 'lashon Hakodesh' (Holy language), but in all seventy basic languages of the world. Only a powerful speaker could have delivered a discourse lasting thirty-six days-from 1 Shevat until 7 Adar.

How then could Moshe, known as a poor orator because he had a speech effect, accomplish this duty? Didn't Moshe once exclaim to Hashem, "I am not a man of words! How can You, Hashem, send me to Pharaoh's palace?" However, it is apparent from Sefer Devarim, which Moshe transmitted to Bnei Yisrael In a short time, that his speech was no longer obstructed. It was healed during his stay on Har-Sinai, when he studied Torah day and night before receiving the second Tablets (luchot). He had deprived himself of food and sleep in order to attain high spiritual levels.

Moshe began by recalling Matan Torah: "You received the Torah at Har Sinai and were instructed therein on the plains of Moav. You know that Hashem performed innumerable miracles for you, from the time we stood at the shore of Yam Suf b__which He split into twelve paths, one for each Tribe-until today. Nevertheless, you have since the repeatedly departed from Hashem and have angered him."

Moshe continued to Bnei Yisrael, "When you left Har Sinai on 20 Iyar, Hashem brought you to the border of Eretz Canaan-in only three days. Hashem miraculously accelerated your progress because He greatly desired that you enter the Holy Land as soon as possible. You could have taken possession of it immediately, but instead you sent out spies. By doing that you caused yourselves a forty years' delay."

Moshe then detailed how he had appointed the judges, "By accepting the Torah, you became Hashem's treasured nation. You increased both quantitatively and qualitatively- the first, because after having descended to Egypt as seventy souls you then multiplied to a total of 600,000 men; the second, because as Hashem's people you became as great heavenly stars."

After his blessing Moshe resumed his narrative: "Hashem wished for me to appoint additional judges so that I should not have to bear the continuous troubles you caused me. I instructed you to bring before me men with the following seven qualifications:

  1. Learned in Torah and wise
  2. Modest
  3. G-d fearing
  4. Men who do not attach any importance to money and do not desire to enrich themselves.
  5. Who seek the truth and justice, thus rejecting falsehood
  6. With a good reputation
  7. Who are liked by all their acquaintances

"From those you recommended, I selected judges, I appointed a judge over each thousand of you, another one over each hundred; another over each fifty; and one over every ten people. I also appointed executive officers 'shoftim' in charge of enforcing the judges' decisions."

While Moshe was speaking, the entire nation listened in silence; not a single person contradicted him or voiced an objection. Rather, each member of the community accepted his sharp rebuke. Bnei Yisrael could have easily protested, "Moshe, we did not commit any of the sins which you mention! It was our fathers who transgressed such."

Hashem therefore told Moshe, "They deserve a blessing for courageously accepting your remonstrations!"

The Jews objected, "Moshe, why do you detract from the blessing that Hashem bestowed upon our forefathers? He promised to multiply their seed like the stars and like sand, both of which are countless. Why, then do you limit G-d's blessing, for instead of an infinite number you project merely a thousand times 600,000?!"

Moshe reassured them, "Do not fear, this was my own blessing. It is limited because I am human. Hashem will also bless you as He promised!"

What did the Jews gain by Moshe's blessing, if they already possessed a greater blessing from Hashem?

The answer is, Moshe explained the Jews, "You are not yet ready for the fulfillment of Hashem's blessing to Avraham. In the meanwhile I have bestowed upon you my own blessing, which will take effect even before Moshiach's time."