Book of Devarim (Deuteronomy) is the fifth and final book of the Torah. This
book is a final communication between Moshe and the flock he has so faithfully
led these past forty years in the desert.
this final talk he would review many of the commandments and give over seventy
new ones, mostly dealing with the land of Israel.
Moshe knew he would not lead them into Israel, and was preparing the
people for this.
of the first things Moshe gave over in his communiqué was a rebuke to the
Jewish people for the many sins they had committed while in the desert (their
constant complaining, the golden calf, Korach, and the spies).
the middle of Moshe’s rebuke he blesses them: “May G-d, the G-d of your
forefathers, add to you a thousand times yourselves, and bless you as He has
spoken of you” (Deut. Ch.1 V.11). The Midrash states that G-d told Moshe to
add this blessing. What made the Jewish people deserving of a blessing at this
Midrash goes on to state that while Moshe was criticizing them, the Jewish
people had a legitimate protest: the incidents which Moshe was referring to
happened before most of them were even alive! After the incident of the spies
(when the spies went into Israel and gave a bad report, and many of the men
believed their report over the promise of G-d), it was decreed upon the men of
that generation that they would perish in the desert.
The people to whom Moshe was talking could have easily complained, “We
were not even there.
Why are you rebuking us?”
To their credit, the people accepted the rebuke without a word.
why is their acceptance of the seemingly unfair rebuke considered a meritorious
act? When a person is unfairly accused, it is important for him to protest these
unfair accusations. And are we as Jews held accountable for the sins of our
their failure to complain showed a certain maturity and understanding about
their role as Jews.
Jewish people have a collective responsibility: the responsibility to repair the
world. The way in which this is done is through keeping the Torah. Each
generation must do its best to accomplish this goal. But even if the Jews of a
particular generation do not complete the goal, it does not mean all their
accomplishments are for naught. Whatever a generation is able to accomplish,
much like building a part of a building, it has made it easier for the next
generation, much like a contractor inheriting a partially finished building.
if a generation sins and creates barriers, then the next generation has a harder
job, much like a contractor will have a harder job building on a ruined
they heard the criticism from Moshe, they did not take it “personally”;
rather, they took the experiences of their forefathers as something to learn and
from which to grow, and to know which mistakes to avoid.
does not visit the iniquities of the fathers onto their children. And we must
see each other as part of a chain from Sinai, sharing a collective