Raboyseyee and Raboyseyettes:
Have you ever wondered why Sefer Devorim, which we begin reading this coming Shabbis, is called Deuteronomy? Nu, we’re about to find out. Parshas Devorim which we always read on the Shabbis just before Tisha Be’Av -though this year we’ll be reading it on Tisha Be’av mamish- can easily put one to sleep: been there and heard all that already. In fact, both the Yiddin and the Goyim call this sefer, the last of the Five Books of the heylige Toirah, either Mishneh Toirah –meaning “Repetition of the Toirah”- or, after its Greek given name – Deuteronomy. Hey, weren’t we taught that mamish every single word of the heylige Toirah is critical and vital and that nothing is repeated? Avada we were, and what’s taka pshat? Nu, we are also taught by Shlomo Hamelech (King Solomon) that two are zicher better than one, and mistama twice is better than once, if you chap. And chapping is mamish so enjoyable, especially when chapping pshat (fooled you there) and also because throughout this Sefer we find Moishe Rabaynu, though near death mamish, repeating everything he had already previously given over in the name of the RBSO. Shoin: we just covered the entire Devorim, parsha and book, well almost. Though we call it repetition, seemingly we’re still going to be introduced to approximately 100 or so new mitzvois, some of them quite juicy, and avada these include the dos and don’ts with the beautiful hot shiksa captive that one chapped during a war, and many others. It’s taka a wonder why yeshiva bochurim don’t enlist, and avada this mitzvah could also be a solution to the entire problem. Nu, if only the rabbis would allow these bochurim to chap one or more of these hotties, the lines at the army enlistment office would be longer than those at the dining room entrance of any kosher hotel 10 minutes before mealtime (and approximately 2 hours after the last meal) and the yeshivas empty, mamish.
Let’s set the scene and review the gantze Parsha bikitzur (in short): Moishe is seemingly at the end of his life, down to his last thirty-six days, so says the Chizkuni (1:3). Forty years have passed since he helped lead the Yiddin out of Mitzrayim (Egypt). Since he too was condemned along with most of the male adults of his generation and wasn’t going to make it over to the Promised Land, it’s time to part ways with the people who are on the brink of fulfilling their national destiny of occupying the Promised Land under the leadership of Yehoishua. He’s got five weeks to go and lots to say. Veyter.
The Yiddin are about to enter the land, Moishe Rabaynu is five weeks from dying and spends most of it reviewing, rebuking and inspiring the Yiddin to get closer to the RBSO. It begins with Moishe’s veiled rebuke in which he makes reference to the many sins and rebellions of the past forty years, and there were taka many. He then recounts several of the significant incidents which occurred to the Yiddin in the desert, further illuminating earlier accounts. Next: He reminds them, in great detail, of the failed mission of the miraglim (spies) shifting the blame to the Yiddin: Ten of the twelve men sent to scout out the land returned with oversized fruit, bad mouthed the land, and because of the people’s lack of faith in the RBSO, the Yiddin were condemned to another 38 years of valgering (wandering) in the desert during which time they partied hearty, had a few happy endings, if you chap, and then mostly died or were killed. Moishe then skips forward to discuss the BNY’s (Jews) war conquest on the eastern bank of the Jordan River, and concludes with words of encouragement for his successor, Yehoishua. Could it be more depressing? It’s no wonder we read this Parsha yearly during the three weeks and always on the shabbis before Tisha B’eAv or as we just learned, on Tisha Be’Av mamish. Shoin, the gantze parsha in under 400 words and most of you are wondering why the Oisvorfer can’t do this more often. Too bad and who asked you anyway?
Besides being Tisha Be’Av mamish, this shabbis is also known as Shabbis Chazon, so called and named after the opening word(s) of the Haftoirah “Chazoin Yishiyahu” (the vision of Yishiyahu). Growing up, it was better known as the shabbis before shabbis Nachamu, the shabbis we all trekked off to the Pioneer, the Pine View, Grossinger’s, the Concord, alayhem hasholom (may they all rest in peace,) to chap a good time, meet single girls and have fun. And taka many got married doing just that. And, as already stated, typically Shabbis Chazoin falls directly before Tisha Be’Av ober this year it coincides mamish, and avada that’s good news for those who can’t get by a shabbis without the requisite amount of liquor, kiddish- club, fish, herring, chulent and then a few more helpings of each. Avada we have a special relationship with Tisha Be’Av, perhaps the most tragic day on our calendar because we remember sadly churban bayis rishoin and shaynee (the destruction of both Temples) on this day ober avada we seemingly have a more special relationship with the heylige shabbis, and avada we must recall shabbis by eating and drinking. And in the battle of celebration with food and drink vs. fasting to recall the tragedies and our sins, seemingly the shabbis carries more weight, as do we, following our shabbis binging.
What taka happened on Tisha Be’Av (Ninth of Av)? Seemingly quite a bit. Some say it’s the day the meraglim (spies) came back carrying their oversized fruits and spoke loshoin horo about the land (Parshas Shlach). What else? 889 years later, we lost the first Beis Hamikdash (the first Temple) at the hands of the Babylonians, and 490 years later, we lost the second Temple (this time the Romans got us), also on Tisha Be’Av. Shockingly, there are more reasons that Tisha Be’Av is a sad and giferliche day, ober isn’t that enough?
Nu, volumes can be written, and in fact were, rationalizing the reasons we lost the second Beis Hamikash ober the heylige Gemora concludes that its destruction, which ushered in our present exile in larger than life homes, multiple cars, housekeepers, nannies, cruises and nebech so many other luxuries, was sinas chinam (baseless hatred) between Yiddin. What else is new? Overall, golus (exile) doesn’t sound all that giferlich, no? And says the heylige Gemora: that any generation in which the Beis Hamikdash is not rebuilt, shares the responsibility for its destruction, yikes!!! Seemingly our own continuing sinas chinam, and who among us doesn’t hate a few people here and there, and general weakness in serving the RBSO correctly and with a joyous heart (more fully described in a few weeks) continues to condemn us to this golus, nebech.
So here we are: Moishe Rabaynu has five weeks to live and he’s in a talking mood. Beginning with this week’s parsha and continuing throughout the entire Sefer, Moishe pontificates in the form of several speeches during which, much like the eishes chayil, he becomes historical and recounts kimat every sin the Yiddin committed during the past 39+ years. Nu, tell me your eishes chayil doesn’t recall every sin you committed since the day you met her every time she gets a shtikel or more upset with you: I dare you. And taka there was lots to talk about nebech; the Yiddin, with few exceptions, were out of control mamish throughout their entire 40 year midbar sojourn; we are a tough bunch. As proof mamish, Moishe addressed the Yiddin as ‘you’ in his historical review (Devorim. 1:19) and not ‘they’, even though the generation he was referring to was all dead and buried. Moishe also reminds them, though in a veiled manner, about the eygel (golden calf) incident. Who needs to be reminded so many years later about their past misdeeds? Zicher not the Oisvorfer, if you chap.
Interestingly enough Sefer Devorim gets its name, as do the other Sefroim, from the first word or words of the first Parsha in the sefer, in this case from the first two words: “Ve’eileh hadevarim” (and these are the words). Efsher you recall though zicher you don’t, that way back in Sefer Shmois when Moishe had his first encounter with the burning bush, he (Moishe ) said to the RBSO azoy: ‘loi ish devarim onoichi’ (I am not a man of words), I’m not much of an orator. What a different Moishe we encounter this week: many say, though avada not all, that Moishe spoke and recited the gantze sefer of Devroim, a controversy we covered biarichus (at length) last year and will likely repeat again this year. Then again if you had an encounter with a burning bush, would you be busy orating? Ver veyst but seemingly Moishe brushed up not just on his oratory skills but also learned 69 additional languages, as we will soon learn; what else was there to do in the Midbar?
What’s the purpose of rehashing all the events of the past and why did Moishe repeat himself? Efsher he got in touch with his feminine side, if you chap or efsher after separating from his own eishes chayil Tzipoira, he was finally able to talk instead of just listening to her yapping, ver veyst. In the spirit of Mishne Toirah (repetition), the heylige Oisvorfer, who received a note this week all the way from a reader in Lexington, Kentucky stating that his entire heylige congregation looks forward to the Oisvorfer’s Toirah, will also repeat himself a shtikel this year. Chances are good, err… I meant great, that most of you won’t remember a thing from last year, but as luck would have it, the Oisvorfer does field complaints from time to time that some material was repeated; you chapped me! Hey, has the heylige Toirah changed since its arrival form Har Seenai over 3324 years ago? Has the heylige Gemora been rewritten? Redacted in many places efsher yes, especially if the Rabbis don’t like what is being said, ober re-written completely? Not yet ober zicher we won’t be surprised to hear that certain Gemoras that discuss zachen (topics) that should only be read and seen on the Internet, will one day be banned from the heylige Gemora; isn’t that what today’s chumra of the week (prohibition of the week) Rabbis do in our times? Such changes should avada be considered poshit (simple) amuratzis and apikursis (both not good things). Nu, some say that Moishe didn’t mean to repeat everything here ober his stuttering just made it seem that way, ver veyst?
Many suggest that much of Sefer Devorim is but a review of the mitzvois, and in this review Moishe clarifies the commandments and reveals additional details; the devil is always in the details. And says Rashi, and who knew more or better, azoy: Moishe explained the Toirah to the Yiddin in seventy languages. According to Rashi, this was part of the process of clarifying the Toirah. Nu, efsher you’re wondering where the Yiddin learned 70 languages while over in Mitzrayim or in the Midbar, me too. Did they need additional language skills to negotiate pricing with Moabite meydlich? Or efsher you’re klerring: How does translation into various languages clarify the Toirah? Ver veyst.
As we say hello to book number five of the Chamishey Chumshay Toirah (five books) a centuries old debate rages: who wrote Sefer Devorim? Had you even a clue that for centuries a debate has been raging over who wrote this fifth book? Did your Rebbe ever teach you that there’s a machloikes (argument, and what else is new) about its authorship? Or was he elsewhere occupied with your classmate, loi olainu (heaven forbid)? Sadly, mistama yes! Altz kint (as a child), avada no one taught the Oisvorfer that this was an issue; it was naturally assumed that the RBSO wrote Devorim just like He wrote the others. And even through the myriad Yeshivas my parents had the pleasure of sending me to, no one uttered a word about this controversy, then again it’s quite possible they did but I was already expelled, oy vey!! Ober (but) gevald (omg) it exists, and many square off about this topic, even the Goyim.
In order to chap all this or at least some of it, we will need to learn some Gemora- so halt kup (pay attention): Here we go, but first some more background. Ershtens (firstly), let’s taka learn what all the noise is about and let’s try to answer the first question first- namely, who wrote this sefer? Did the RBSO also write Sefer Devorim or did Moishe, feeling epes(somewhat) emboldened, think he was no longer but a messenger but now also a scriber, write his own book? What’s p’shat here? Is it at all even thinkable that the RBSO only wrote four books and that Moishe authored the fifth? Avada some of you heard of taking the fifth, but authoring it? Let’s explore ober before we do, is it even permissible to discuss this topic without being ostracized, considered apikorsim (heretics), excommunicated, or worse?
Veyst tzich ois (apparently) it’s ok to talk about this subject, many before the Oisvorfer have, but zicher (surely) we must be politically correct lest giferliche things start happening to us, especially as we approach Tisha Be’Av. Says the RambaM, in Hilchois Teshuva (3:8), a topic we will soon enough be discussing: Three fall into the category of heretics who deny the Toirah, and two of those three are: Someone who says that the Toirah is not from the RBSO; and someone who says of even one possik or even one letter, that Moishe composed it himself, then he is a heretic. Shoin! Strong words and we can deduce from his position that he felt strongly about this topic. So why would we even kler (think) differently?
Seemingly, the first person wording of Devorim coupled with stylistic and other differences, has given rise to this question, and has, over the years, caused many to believe that Devorim was written, or may have been written, by Moishe himself. Mamish from its opening sentence and throughout the entire Sefer, we will see that Devorim is different from the first four. Instead of the usual introductory statement, “God spoke to Moishe, saying,” we read:
|“These are the words that Moishe spoke to all of Israel on the far side of the Jordan River …” (Deut. 1:1)|
Unlike the other four books, Deuteronomy is largely a record of speeches that Moishe delivered to the people before his death. The heylige Gemora (Megillah 31b) confirms that the prophetic nature of this sefer (book) is qualitatively different than the others. While the other books of the Toirah are a direct transmission of the RBSO’s word, seemingly Moishe said Deuteronomy mipi atzmoy (“on his own.“). Was he out of line? Did all this talking to the RBSO get to his head, chas v’sholom? It’s also clear that Devarim is written in a different voice than the rest of the heylige Toirah. Devorim is written in the first person, from Moishe’s perspective, and the RBSO is spoken of in the third. This is in stark contrast to the rest of the Toirah, in which Moishe is spoken of in third person. Chapping all this or is this way over your heads? Where did I lose you?
On the other hand, the heylige Gemora treats the many Mitzvois (commandments) that appear exclusively in Devarim as completely Biblical commandments. Did Moishe have authority to promulgate his own mitzvois and laws? And the Gemora accepted them as if they came directly from above?
Wait, I’m not done yet. The debate over Devorim’s authorship continued through to the Rishonim (early Sages). The heylige Gemora (Sanhedrin 99a) tells us clearly that the claim that even one sentence in the Five Books was not written literally, word for word by Moishe from the mouth of the RBSO, is heresy mamish! Which is it?
On the other hand, the Gemora in Megillah (31b) states that the Toichocho (curses) of Devorim are not as strict as those in Vayikra, and therefore, the curses of Devarim may be broken into different Aliyos, while those of Vayikra must be read without pause. The reason given is that the Vayikra curses are recorded by Moishe directly from the mouth of the RBSO, while the Devarim curses represent Moishe’s own re-iteration of them. Is one Gemora contradicting another? Why not? It keeps the mind sharp; isn’t that what Gemora is mostly about?
Other opinions: The Ohr Hachayim holds that the first possik (verse) of this fifth book serves to clarify that only this book was written by Moishe, but the rest of the Toirah was dictated by the RBSO.
The heylige Gemora (Bava Basra 15a) considers who wrote the final 8 pisukim of the Toirah which describe events after Moishe’s death. Rebbe Yehudah holds that Moishe wrote , under the RBSO’s guidance, the gantze (entire) Toirah except for the last 8 pisukim, which were written by Yehoishua. Avada this makes sense given that Moishe is dead. Ober, Rebbe Shimon says that being dead is not necessarily a deterrent to writing. Hey- haven’t we seen wills written after the person died without one? Rather, until the last 8 verses, the RBSO spoke and Moishe wrote; thereafter, He spoke and Moishe wrote it bedema (in tears.) . Rambam seems to rule, in his famous introduction to the Mishnah ( Perek Chelek,) in support of Rebbe Shimon: “The 8th principle is that Toirah is from Heaven, i.e. we should believe that THIS ENTIRE TOIRAH WHICH WE HAVE TODAY IS THE ONE GIVEN BY MOISHE OUR TEACHER, MAY HE REST IN PEACE, DICTATED ENTIRELY BY GOD.” Moishe was like a scribe to whom one dictates and he writes.
And how do we reconcile these two views? Says The Vilna Gaon: that the statements of Rebbe Yehudah and Rebbe Shimon may taka be reconciled, why not? Says the Midrash (Bereishis Rabbah 1:1): the Toirah was all written even before the world was created, so our inquiry should not be restricted to the final 8 verses but to the entire Toirah! How then could Moishe write “And Moishe died …” (Devorim 34:5), and how could the whole Toirah have been written prior to the occurrence of the events described? Says the Gaon that the text of the Toirah is formulated by combinations of the RBSO’s names. Before creation, the Toirah existed in its hidden, primordial (good scrabble word) state. As world history unfolded, the RBSO revealed to Moishe how to write the words of our Toirah but only up to the final 8 verses. The remainder He taught to Moishe in a concealed form (word jumble). Therefore, we can now chap that Moishe taka wrote the text of the last 8 verses, but without being made aware of the spaces between words so it all looked like one long string of letters! Shortly afterward, the RBSO disclosed to Yehoishua where to insert the spacing in order to make sense of these final words. And you finally chap why he was the Vilna Gaon and you’re nothing but a bum and an Oisvorf.
Got all that? Case closed or is your head too farshtupped (stuffed) with other devorim betalim (other nonsense) and you can’t absorb all this gevaldige Toirah? If you chap this last p’shat, you can understand why the commandments in Devarim are treated completely as are those in the other books. Also, Art Scroll and other publishers are avada happy: more books to sell.
And says the heylige Zoihar that we needn’t worry about others who maintain that Moishe is its author, despite such support from the first-person wording of the Sefer which contradicts the very basis of our faith in the Divine origin of the entire Toirah; it’s all narishkeyt (bs). How many times have I told you not to mess with the Zoihar? It’s mamish dangerous!
Let’s just all agree that the RBSO wrote it and all is good; do you really care who wrote it? It’s here, so we try to keep a few mitzvois here and there and say I’m sorry on Yoim Kippur for those we couldn’t, didn’t or otherwise ignored. Isn’t that what the holiday is for anyway? Case closed? Not so fast, as many commentators insist that Sefer Devorim was written by Moishe in his own words; are they all just rabble rousers? How are we to understand this?
Says Abarbanel azoy: At first Moishe taka (indeed) said these words of his own initiative, ober (but) the RBSO had his back. After he (Moishe) expressed himself, the RBSO agreed and commanded Moishe to reduce his words to writing. The RBSO then dictated the same words in exactly the same way as He had dictated the previous books. Is it good to have friends in High places or what? Beautiful! Shoin: It’s settled!
The bottom line is that we have five books and that’s what we have to learn. This doesn’t, of course, satisfy many Goyim who have differing views on who wrote it, but that’s for another day. Mistama (likely) you’re not aware that kimat (nearly) all liberal scholars, both Catholic and Protestant, deny the authorship of Moishe and among their reasons is that he could not have written the last Pisukim (following his death). I mean he was good, but writing Toirah after dying? Nu, that’s for another day. And, of course you wouldn’t know that, and why should you? You barely know anything about your own religion, are you expected to know what the Goyim are thinking? And who cares? Ginig shoin (enough already), we’re kimat (almost) 6 pages in, yikes.
And for the record: The Oisvorfer, despite his other shortcomings, is avada mamish a believer that the RBSO is behind the gantze Toirah kulah (the entire enchilada) especially during these nine days when he’s mamish spooked about everything.
Some of the mitzvois taught contradict earlier versions given. We will be introduced to 100 new ones, including divorce law, Yibbum, and more. Divorce law? What’s yibbum you ask? Nu- that’s for another day, ober divorce law you zicher know. And who doesn’t know a chaver or two that hasn’t been divorced at least once? I have chaverim that have done it multiple times and will continue until they get it right. In fact one acquaintance just got done with spouse number 5. Anyway, where was I? But do we want to hear the other 500+ again? Maybe they should cut out laining during the summer weeks so that we can vacation without having to worry about missing kriyas hatoirah?
Ober Raboyseyee we have to learn Devorim because it’s mashma (appears) that even some of the old laws have come back with new twists, and some history is being revised, say it’s not so…but it is. Lemoshol (by way of example) Moishe recounts the story of the Meraglim (spies) this week but the facts seem to be not what they were way back in Parshas Shelach. In fact, had there been a trial, it’s likely that a mistrial would have been declared.
And the bottom line? The entire Sefer Devorim is basically three separate sermons delivered by Moishe to the Yiddin just before he died. According to tradition, the three speeches took 36 days to deliver – beginning on the first of Shevat and ending on the sixth of Adar, and you thought your Rabbi was long winded. These sermons stress the RBSO’s special relationship with the BNY. The people are reminded that they are not more virtuous than the other nations of earth; it is only through their loyalty to the heylige Toirah that their unique role in history will come about.
A gitten shabbis and an easy fast..
The Oisvorfer Ruv