Parashat D’varim (Words/ Things) Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22
Haftarah: Isaiah 1:1-27
Much of the book of Deuteronomy is a review of those things that happened in either the book of Exodus or the book of Numbers. In this week’s Torah portion there is a review of a most unfortunate event which concerned the twelve individuals that spied out the Land of Canaan. It is well known that instead of agreeing with Joshua and Caleb, the people chose instead to accept the opinion of the ten other spies who doubted that the Children of Israel could inherit the Land, as HaShem had promised. This event is a sad chapter in Israel’s history. What brought it about was clearly documented in the text. Moses told the people,
“And in this word you all do not believe in HaShem your G-d.” Deuteronomy 1:32
In Hebrew the name of the book of Deuteronomy does not relate to the “second” telling of Israel’s history in the wilderness, as the English name does, but is simply recorded as “the things” or “the words” דברים. This same word in the singular form appears in the aforementioned verse, “And in this word you all do not believe in HaShem your G-d.” Obviously the word which is being referred to is HaShem’s promise to give to the Children of Israel the Land. The point which the verse teaches is that when one rejects the word of G-d, in actuality this one is failing to believe in G-d. Because of this lack of faith one reads that HaShem became angry with the people and promised by means of an oath that none of them except Joshua and Caleb would enter into the Land, i.e. become a recipient of the promises of G-d (See verses 34-39). It is also very significant how G-d describes the people in this section. He calls them “this evil generation” (See verse 35).
Once again the reader learns that without faith it is impossible to please G-d (See Hebrews 11:16). Why is this? The answer is because without faith one will not see things from HaShem’s perspective and therefore will always choose that which is contrary to the purposes of G-d. After hearing the punishment that HaShem placed upon them, they confessed their sin and stated that they were now willing to enter into the Land and even fight in order to take possession of it. At first glance this seems like repentance and that HaShem should forgive them of their sin and reaffirm His plan with them.
However, this is not what took place. The Children of Israel were told that they were not able to respond now in this manner. Why was this? The answer is because their spiritual condition had not really changed. The people had not truly embraced HaShem or His will. They simply did not want the punishment. This leads us to a very important Biblical principle. True faith is not fleeing from the punishment, but rather it is turning from sin and embracing the L-rd. What is revealed in verse 42 is very significant. HaShem commands Moses to inform the people saying,
“…you will not go up nor will you fight, because I (HaShem) am not in your midst…”
This verse shows that without faith, G-d is not with a person and even if one should want to serve the L-rd, he will not be able to do so. Once again, it is impossible to overemphasize the importance of faith, the faith which is rooted in the truth, i.e. the Scriptures, in order to accomplish the purposes of G-d.
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