Parshas Devarim
Deuteronomy 1:1 - 3:22

Making The Best Of Where I Don't Want To Be! ©

By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This study of the weekly parsha is dedicated in the loving memory of Mrs. Ethel Sakash Belk, my mother, may she rest in peace.

We read Bi Ay Vehr {"In traverse of..."} Hah Yar Dayn {"the Jordan River"} Bi Eh Rehtz - Moh Awv {"in the land of Moav"}, Hoh Eel {"in as much as [that was the situation]"} Moshe Bay Ayr {"Moshe elucidated"} Ehs Hah Toh Raw {"the Torah"} Hah Zohs - Lay Moor {"in other words [languages] as follows"}. Deuteronomy 1:5

Moshe was writing this instruction of Torah from the opposite side of the Yardein River. He was writing from the other side. He was writing from what he considered the wrong side of the banks of the Yardein River. He obviously was in a place that he had no control over. He desired to be somewhere else. He greatly desired to be on the Canaan side of the Yardein. He wanted to be on the other side of the situation... of the problem...

Many of us are standing at the banks of the Yardein looking across to the other side, wishing we could be there instead of here where we are! Dear reader, this is where Moshe found himself after years of dedication, after years of working hard, after years of studying, after years of teaching others and after years of leading a difficult people...

Holy reader, those of us who are standing at the Yardein wishing we were on the other side, knowing we cannot cross over... knowing our ultimate goal will not be realized in this life, can identify with Moshe's frustration when he scribed Devarim. Yet Moshe pillared a great example there on the banks of the Yardein by not allowing his unfilled desires to conquer him. Even though he was disappointed in the fact that he could not cross over, Moshe was not defeated! This short passage gives us insight into Moshe's great character.

Chassidim, Moshe dug in on the Moav side of the his last days, in a place he preferred not to be. The Torah states, "In traverse of the Jordan River in the land of Moav, in as much as [that was the situation]..." NOTICE "Moshe elucidated the Torah in [seventy] languages as follows..." Deuteronomy 1:5

So Moshe taught... instructed... explained "the Torah" Hah Zohs {meaning, "in other words," meaning "in other languages..." meaning "in seventy other languages"}! The insertion of Hah Zohs was for the explicit purpose of informing us of this fact! Hah Zohs could have been omitted had it not been extremely important! The Torah could have recorded, "Moshe elucidated the Torah as follows.." However what Moshe did was much more than that. "Moshe elucidated the Torah in [seventy] languages as follows..."

So in Moshe's last days he used every language to elucidate the Torah to B'nei Yisroel. It wasn't because B'nei Yisroel couldn't understand Torah. It wasn't because B'nei Yisroel experienced language communication barriers. Chassidim, it was because Moshe wanted B'nei Yisroel to experience the multidimensional beauty of Torah from all known languages of the world. This was Moshe's last great act, teaching the Torah in seventy languages. Moshe gave seventy explanations of the same Torah! Moshe shared seventy unique beauties of Torah with B'nei Yisroel. Moshe taught seventy different dimensions of Torah!

We are approaching this day again through computer technology. We can communicate with the world even though we do not understand the languages of the world as Moshe did! We can type in one language and our computer will translate it into another language.

Now, dear readers, grasp Moshe's powerful intellect as he stood at the banks of the Yardein knowing he could not cross over... knowing his life was drawing to a conclusion. He used all of his genius to expound Torah in every possible thought and language. Today we are only living on the surface of what Moshe taught B'nei Yisroel. Thoughts we are experiencing today Moshe experienced while elucidating Torah near the Yardein!

We learn from Moshe's great example. Moshe did not quit his position of leading Kal Yisroel when Hashem informed him he would not be allowed to cross the Yardein into Eretz Canaan. Moshe accepted the fate of his situation with the greatest dignity! He taught Torah in the ultimate! He instructed Torah in seventy languages! He rose to the occasion!

Dear reader, whatever our situation is, we can learn from Moshe's example of how to face what we cannot change... of how to deal with what we cannot avoid... Moshe's depth of Torah extended beyond one or two languages. This tells us so much. Regardless of all Moshe's enormous responsibilities, he made time to make Torah his nearest and dearest companion. Moshe's life was observed in Torah on seventy different levels in seventy different thought processes. When Moshe reached the most difficult place in his life he was grounded. He was rooted! He was steeped in Torah! Moshe was accompanied by his dearest friend, the Torah! So the most natural thing for Moshe to do was to share his nearest and dearest companion, the Torah, in the fullest sense of his humanity!

We can apply this lesson of Moshe by realizing what it means to be absorbed in Torah. Being absorbed in Torah means we have a lifetime companion. We have a lifetime guide. We have a dear, dear lifetime friend. Thinking of the Torah as a book of laws is the wrong message! Thinking of the Torah as a book of do's and don't's is the wrong message!!

Story: Dr. Belk's Old Siddur
Within our home are a varity of siddurim, prayer books. Each family member has at least one siddur they are partial to for one reason or another. Like everyone else in the family I enjoy saying prays from my favorite siddur. My siddur is an old friend of many years. We have grown older together. The pages of my friend are worn. Some pages are graced with wine stains from the hundreds of kiddush prayers we have shared. Other pages are spotted with candle droplets from years of sharing havdalah together. An occasional handwritten note may be found of a special joy we have shared. My old siddur and I have shared thousands of hours of prayer and learning together. Last year my siddur retired. Yet we still share many wonderful times together especially when I am feeling low. On days when I am low he joins me. Together we journey back in time together.

In the same way the Torah is also dear. Moshe was closer to the Torah on every level than to any human being. Aside from Hashem the Torah was his dearest and closest friend!

Moshe taught us the proper perspective of Torah! Torah should be the dearest friend of our lifetime! This is what Moshe taught us!

Good Shabbos!

Dr. Akiva G. Belk

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