Parsha Devarim - Devarim/Deuteronomy 1:1 - 3:22
Intro to Sefer Devarim
This week, we begin the last book of the Torah, Sefer Debarim (the book of Deuteronomy). This last book includes Moshe’s parting words to the children of Yisrael. It won’t be long before he passes away, and Yehoshua takes over as the leader.
The majority of the book is Moshe speaking to the people and preparing them for the final stage of redemption. What began in Bereshith is now coming to fruition.
YAHUAH chose Abraham and promised him an inheritance in Kena’an (Canaan). At the Covenant of the Parts, YAHUAH said that Abraham’s descendants would go into slavery for a period, but He will bring them back to this land to inherit it. (Ber/Gen. 12:1-7; 13:13-17; 15:13-16)
Now, here in Debarim, we see it about to take place. They’re in the plains of Moab getting ready to cross the Yarden (Jordan) into Eretz Yisrael to take possession of their inheritance. This closing book of the Torah is Moshe preparing them for this final stage.
Sefer Debarim is made up of five speeches Moshe gave to the people, and Parsha Debarim (ch. 1-3:22) contains about half of his opening speech.
Here, Moshe recounts the major event that brought them to where they are now - the sin of the spies (Bem/Num. 13-14). What could and should have been an 11-day trip became a 40-year journey (Deb. 1:2). Their sin delayed entrance to the land and caused an entire generation to die off leaving only those standing before him.
Then, Moshe recounts the nations they encountered along the way: Edom, Moab, Ammon, Cheshbon, and Bashan. They passed peacefully through Edom, Moab, and Ammon, but Yisrael fought and defeated Sihon of Cheshbon, king of the Amorites, and Og, king of Bashan. They took possession of their land and gave it to Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Menashsheh.
Moshe recounted these events because Yisrael needed a reminder to boost their emunah, their belief in Elohim. They were ready to enter the land, and emunah was absolutely necessary.
So, Mosheh reminded them of the dangers of not having emunah - of not believing and trusting in Elohim. Then, he reminded them of past battles to bolster their belief. YAHUAH already defeated two mighty nations, and your brothers already possessed it. Surely, YAH is with you, and you can continue and complete the mission.
Why mention Edom, Moab, and Ammon? These were nations that Yisrael didn’t fight, and Moshe explained to them why they didn’t. It was because YAH did not give Yisrael that land. YAH gave that land to the descendants of Esaw and Lot. It was not for Yisrael.
Moshe explained this to make sure the people didn’t think that they didn’t fight because of fear or an inability to defeat them. If they thought these nations were too mighty for them to fight, then their emunah would be weakened. They would question if they could really defeat the nations ahead. Moshe prevented this by giving them the full story.
Emunah Boosting "Recipe"
These words Moshe spoke to Yisrael provide a simple lesson to us on how to boost our emunah.
You've heard of Immune Boosting Recipes, here's an Emunah Boosting Recipe:
1. Remember the consequences. Remember the times when lack of belief may have cost you dearly. If you can’t readily think of something, then recall the sin of the spies. Because they lacked emunah, Yisrael continued to go through trials in order to strengthen it. Just think: if we have enough emunah now, then we might not have as many challenges in the future. YAHUAH wants us to be people of emunah, and we don’t want our 11-day road to emunah to become a 40-year trek!
2. Understand the “let-downs.” These are the times when we prayed for help and had the belief, but it seemed like we just weren’t answered. Maybe we don’t have the full story. Maybe what we were praying for just wasn’t for us. What we see as a disappointment or a “failing” may be a completely different issue altogether. YAH had another plan for us. It’s important to understand this because the adversary will try to use these “let-downs” to instill fear and weaken our emunah.
And most importantly…
3. Remember the successes! Remember all the times when YAHUAH helped us, and we overcame the challenge. It doesn’t matter if the situation was big or small, serious or not - if YAH helped us overcome before, then surely He can - and will - help us again!
In a Nutshell: When faced with a challenge that requires strength of emunah, recall the past.
Moshe did all three of the above with Yisrael before they entered the Land. It boosted their emunah for the challenge ahead. And we all know the story: Yisrael entered the Land, defeated the inhabitants, and took possession of their inheritance. So, Moshe’s "recipe" worked!
Take heed, and remember the Emunah Boosting Recipe whenever you face a challenge. Whether big or small, if it takes emunah, then start by remembering the past. The boost you get will surely bring you through with joy!