Parashat Devarim


Parashat Devarim

This week we begin the fifth of the five books of Moses, the book of Deuteronomy. In many ways this book is a repetition of Israel’s history in the wilderness. Sometimes one must understand his past to move forward and that is the purpose of this book: Israel must understand its past in order to move forward and take possession of the Land that G-d has given to them. Due to the lack of faith and obedience, only Joshua, the new leader of the people and Caleb were allowed to enter into the Land. In speaking of Caleb, Moses said, “…because he followed HaShem wholeheartedly” Deuteronomy 1:36.  This phrase is somewhat different in the Hebrew, it reads literally, “…because he fulfilled after the L-rd.” I realize that this does not really make sense in English, but let’s look at it more closely.

The entire verse (see Deut. 1:36) makes reference to the Land upon which Caleb walked. Rashi says this is a reference to Hebron (see Numbers 13:22). Caleb had been to Hebron when he spied out the Land with Joshua and the ten other spies. Hebron was the burial place of the Avraham, Yitzhaq, and Yaacov. These men were known for their faith. True faith is not just knowing G-d’s will but desiring to fulfill it. This is what Caleb wanted to do. This phrase (“…because he fulfilled after the L-rd.”) makes reference to the fact that Caleb fulfilled G-d’s will because he desired to pursue after the L-rd. That is the key point. People who are pleasing to G-d are those individuals who want to fulfill G-d’s will not because of the desire to be successful, but because they know it will bring the closer to G-d.

What motivates you to serve G-d? For some it is what they can do before other people. They see service to G-d as a way to lift themselves up before the people around them. Others seek to serve G-d because of a position or role they will assume. This gives them a sense of purpose or belonging. There are many other reasons why people dedicate their lives to G-dly purposes, but if the purpose is not to draw close to the living G-d and experience His love, then you have missed what spirituality is all about. It is an ongoing personal experience with G-d that will cause an individual to be transformed into a vessel which G-d will used to bring Him honor.

This Shabbat examine yourself and ask why are you doing the things you are? What or better yet who are you pursuing? If it is not Yeshua the Messiah then you are not the type of person that G-d desires. There is good news however! G-d allows one to turn from sin and embrace Him. He even helps us do just this. Every person needs to take a self inventory now and then. More than likely now is the time. David prayed this very same thing in Psalm 139. Why not pray this psalm and begin the journey back to a right and growing relationship with the G-d of Israel. I will be making that same journey. Shabbat Shalom.

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