Parashat D'varim

Words Of Admonition

Moses, finally, at the end of his life, able to transition from a man of action to a man of words, rebukes the Israelites, who are receptive to his criticisms.

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As Rabbi Peli concludes, "Moses realizes that only a leader who had risked his own life and brought much good to his people has the right to rebuke them for their shortcomings. He must have wanted to say these "words" earlier, but he waited for the right moment. That is why the biblical narrative puts so much emphasis on the place and time of Moses' speech."

Davar Aher

There are those unbelievers who claim that the Torah was meant to be observed only in the wilderness far away from the settlements of other groups and nations or in the Holy Land, where Jews dwelt among their own, and where no one would interfere with their customs. They insist that when the Jews dwell among other nations, when they live in the midst of another culture and civilization, they must not keep aloof from their neighbours by clinging to the observance of the Torah and its commandments.

It was to refute this argument that Moses explained the Law to the Children of Israel in all the 70 languages of the world before they entered the Promised Land. He wanted to impress upon his people that they were duty-bound to observe the Torah regardless of what lands they might dwell in, because the Torah was valid for all time and for all countries and was not subject to change (Ketav Sofer).

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Rabbi Jordan D. Cohen

Jordan D. Cohen is the rabbi of Temple Anshe Sholom in Hamilton, Ontario. Previously, he worked as Associate Director of KOLEL - The Adult Centre for Liberal Jewish Learning in Toronto, Canada. Prior to his return to Canada, Rabbi Cohen served as Rabbi of the United Jewish Congregation of Hong Kong, and Associate Rabbi of the North Shore Temple Emanuel in Sydney, Australia.