Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The last book of Chumash is Devarim, which is also known as Mishneh Torah, “the repetition of the Torah,” for in it Moshe Rabeinu sums up the first four books of the Chumash. What lesson can be derived from this? The Rebbe explains:

Granted, the Talmud implies[1] that the first four books of the Chumash have an advantage over the book of Devarim. Nevertheless, Devarim also has an advantage, for it is said there, “These are the things that Moshe spoke.” This is along the lines of the verse, “Remember the Torah of Moshe, My servant.”[2] Indeed, in its plain and true meaning this verse refers to the entire Torah. Nevertheless, the phrase “the Torah of Moshe, My servant” refers especially to “the things that Moshe spoke.”[3]

In “the things that Moshe spoke” [i.e., the book of Devarim] there are several additions, new laws, and directives not found in the first four books. But if the book of Devarim is only a review of the first four books, how can it contain novelties?

The explanation is that this is the greatness of a summary, and the purpose of the book of Devarim is to summarize the entire Torah.

A summary contains the core point of all the ideas [that it seeks to summarize]. Although there is no novelty, for everything is derived from existing information, there are still concepts that were expressed differently earlier, and when the summary is made, that which was not noticed earlier becomes apparent.

This is similar to the quality of the last Sefirah (Malchut), which includes all the Sefirot above it, but its source is higher than all the Sefirot.

This is the purpose [of the book of Devarim, which begins with the words,] “These are the things that Moshe spoke”—although these concepts were taken from the previous books.

One could think, “Why do I need the instructions of Moshe Rabeinu, can’t I take from where Moshe took?”

To this we respond: “You will not be able to reveal these things on your own; only Moshe Rabeinu can do this,” as it is written, ‘These are the things that Moshe spoke.’”

This very concept—that Moshe “summarizes” the previous books of Chumash—was also given to Moshe at Sinai. In other words, just as the hidden aspects of the Torah were given to Moshe at Sinai, so was the revelation in Mishneh Torah also given to Moshe at Sinai.

And one who contradicts this, G–d forbid, claiming that even one letter in the Mishneh Torah was not given to Moshe at Sinai, is considered a heretic, as Maimonides rules.[4]

As far as our situation is concerned: Certain people erroneously think that there is no need for an intermediary; rather, one can go straight to G–d. However, this is incorrect, as it is written, “And they believed in G–d, and in Moshe His servant.”[5] This means that by believing in “Moshe His servant” one attains “they believed in G–d.”[6] When one’s faith in Moshe is lacking, so is his faith in G–d. Conversely, by believing in “Moshe His servant” one attains “they believed in G–d” in an additional measure and on a higher level.

This principle also applies to the Moshe in every generation,[7] until the Moshe of our generation, my father-in-law, the [Previous] Rebbe.

Thus, it should be known that all the instructions revealed and transmitted by “Moshe His servant,” who is the memutza ha’mechabeir,[8] are of primary importance, for through “Moshe His servant” one reaches “they believed in G–d.” One should not imagine that he can reveal and accomplish on his own [i.e., find his own path in understanding and applying Torah without following the guidance of a suitable intermediary], for these are matters that were given at Sinai specifically to Moshe. Thus, only by following the instructions that we receive from the Moshe of our generation do we reach “they believed in G–d.”

This concept is not a matter of “I have codified a statute, I have decreed a decree”[9] that has no rational basis. Rather, we can observe this phenomenon tangibly: Through “I stand between G-d and you there is an increase in “to tell you the Word of G-d”[10]

Moreover, it was also only Moshe who possessed the ability to begin delivering the Mishneh Torah with the account of the sin of the golden calf, and not be deterred. Rather, he continued further and further, until the conclusion: “in the eyes of all Yisrael”—which represents the notion of seeing G–dliness [which is a very lofty level.

Hisva’aduyos, Vol. 17, pp. 131-132.

[1] Megillah 31b.

[2] Malachi 3:22.

[3] See Iyun Yaakov on Bava Basra 14b.

[4] Hilchos Teshuva 3:8.

[5] Shemos 14:31.

[6] See Mechilta, ibid.

[7] Tikkunei Zohar, Tikkun 69 (pp. 112a, 114a).

[8] Literally, a “joining intermediary.” See the Rebbe Rashab’s Sefer HaSichos Toras Shalom p. 158.

[9] Tanchuma, Chukas 3.

[10] Devarim 5:5.

In my own words: Although Hashem had revealed the first four books of the Chumash without an intermediary, Moshe Rabeinu was needed to sum up and explain the content of the first four books in his own words, which also involved teaching apparently new concepts. Yet although Moshe Rabeinu used his own words and expressed apparently new ideas, his teachings were an integral part of the divine revelation of the Torah; in fact, they were vital and indispensible to it. 

Similarly, the guidance of the “Moshe Rabeinu of the generation” is a vital part of the Jew’s divine service, and is needed for him to truly grasp all the other teachings of the Torah. Moreover, it enables him to connect to G–d on a far more profound, sublime level, to the point that he apprehends G–dliness on the level of sight, i.e., as if G–d were a tangible reality.

Comment: This is the basis for the strong emphasis that Chassidus and Chassidim place on believing in the Rebbe, studying his teachings, and obeying his instructions, for it is specifically this emphasis that enables us to connect with Hashem and all of the Torah in the most complete manner. Thus, even if some of his teachings appear novel and unprecedented, we are confident that they are merely a revelation of that which was earlier hidden, and are being revealed now because they are vital for our divine service.


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