Weekly Torah Commentary – Devarim August 5, 2011

This week we begin the last book of the Torah, Devarim or Deuteronomy.  Seven days before he left this world, Moshe reviewed for the Israelites their forty years in the desert, relating numerous incidents and reminding them of important junctures in their journey — times and events where the most important lessons were learned.

He spoke these words on the shores of the Jordan which Israel was about to cross to enter the Land of Promise.  He would not go with them and knowing well their weaknesses and obstinacy during the time of his leadership, Moshe was very apprehensive that they would stray from the Divine Commandments and lose the Holy Land.  In Devarim we find his desperate plea that they not forfeit the magnificent gift Hashem was giving them.

In addition to the warnings, he also gave them his heartfelt blessings for Moshe loved his people intensely.  From him we learn the great importance of loving all of Am Yisrael, the people of Israel.  Within the community of Israel at large, there are many and varied differences — differences in traditions between Ashkenazi Jews and Sephardi Jews for instance.  There are devout Jews and secular Jews, there are Israeli born Jews and Diaspora Jews (those born and raised outside of Israel).  Moshe dealt with all 12 tribes of Israel and each tribe had each unique characteristic and calling within the larger framework of “all” Israel.

It is the same today and from Moshe, and more recently in our history from haRav Kook, we learn that each of us is commanded to love our fellow Jew with all our heart, regardless of any differences between us.  Oh that Israel would reach this level of loving one another, even in our day.

In chapter 2, verse 7 we read, “For G-d, your G-d, was with you;  you did not lack a thing.”  Despite their wanderings and rebellions, Moshe reminds them that Hashem’s kindness was never turned away from them and He provided all that they needed, even when their faith was weak.

Shlomo haMelech wrote: “A lover of money will never be satisfied with money.”  Eccles. 5:9  This is true not only of money but of all manner of earthly possessions.  We are subject to two major influences: our emotions and our intellect.  Our emotions produce infinite appetites, but our intellect teaches us that happiness can never be fully achieved by accumulating “things”.

True joy is a quality of heart that arises from a contented spirit.  To live a contented life has nothing at all to do with the size of our bank account or the number of our possessions.  To live a contented life is to live in the abiding faith that Hashem provides all that we need — spiritually, physically, emotionally and financially — and to learn to be supremely thankful for what He has poured into our lives.

In Tune with Torah this week = renewing our commitment to be a grateful person, thanking Hashem for all of our blessings, taking nothing for granted but recognizing that it all comes from Him — and making the choice to focus our attention on all that we can be grateful for, and putting aside the mindset of dwelling on what we don’t have.  May we be a very grateful people as David wrote: “I will bless the L-rd at all times….”

Shabbat Shalom

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