Dvar Torah Parshat Devarim 5771 2011

We start a new book of the Torah this week, the Book of Devarim. We read the words of Moshe to the Israelites when they were about to enter into the Promised Land and Moshe was not to go in with them. Moshe speaks concerning the places they had been to during their forty years of journeys. The locations he mentioned are not all distinguishable.

Rashi, based on the Midrash Sifra, explains that Moshe was admonishing the people for the various wrongdoings during their travels and each of these places mentioned represents another offense. The Aramaic translation of Onkelos also understands these names in a similar fashion.

Moshe was explaining to the people that when they cross the Jordan River and reach their destination they will have to act differently. The Land of Israel will not tolerate these acts.

This portion is read every year before the tragic day of Tisha B’Av. On that day we recall the destruction of the two Temples that stood in Yerushalayim. The Temples were destroyed because the people forgot the Torah and its teachings and the rebuke of Moshe. The Land of Israel cannot tolerate wrongdoing. The Torah tells us that if we follow the actions of many of the other countries and not the Jewish laws the land will cast us out.

This is what Moshe was trying to emphasize to the Israelites. This is the lesson that we must heed even today.

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