Devarim The “Faithful Shepperd”

Moshe Rabeinu after punishing the Medianites and Killing Balaam, he stands on a rock and inform the Bnei Yisrael that it’s his last day of life. Therefore, they must listen carefully to his last words. Bnei Yisrael were shocked to their core, they could not fathom a life without their “Faithful ShepperdMoshe Rabeinu. He had done for them so many miracles and saved them from every challenge that confronted them. Nevertheless, they had to harness their emotions and listen to every word he had to tell them.

Moshe tells them: “How can I myself alone bear your contentiousness, your burden and your quarrelsomeness”. The Ashkenazi rite is to read this verse with the tune of Eicha that is read on Tisha Beav, as to mean his words were loaded with negativity, as to say they had poisoned his life with their petty strife.

Is it possible that Moshe the “Faithful Shepperd” who never uttered any complaint on Bnei Yisrael, would do it on his last day of life? When Hashem decreed to strike the Bnei Yisrael, he would argue that he should carry the burden of the punishment in order to save his “Flock”. When Hashem wanted to send him to Pharaoh to free the Bnei Yisrael from Egypt, Moshe argued that he was “Kvad Peh” commonly translated as stuttering. However, the Targum translates it as: Moshe was speaking “very little” and with “great depth”, so he was not fit to be the “communication director” of Am Yisrael.

Is it then possible that on his last moment of life he found his tongue, and his message would be “you’re rotten people”? These are the Chosen People for whom he sacrificed his entire life, time and again, would it make sense, that’s now he would try to hurt their feelings? To belittle them? To break them? It doesn’t make much sense. In contrary, they’re about to enter Eretz Yisrael and wage war to the occupants, they need to be reassured and he needs to raise their confidence. This is the last mission of the “Faithful Shepperd”, who cared for them as a mother to her baby, his only concern should be that they come out victorious with no human loss.

The Ramban explains that Moshe here repeated in an oblique manner what he had said to his father-in-law Yithro when the latter had enquired what Moshe was busy with all day long. At that time he had referred to his duties as threefold: settling of disputes arising between one another; to teach Torah to the people who had just left hundreds of years of slavery, involved only with the physical effort to survive such bondage; to shelter his “flock” from any evil with his prayers.

So, “Your Hardship”, alludes to the fact it was a difficult task to turn slaves into scholars. “Your Burden” refers to the numerous prayers required to intercede for them. [In Isaiah 37, 4 the prayer is referred as a burden, a weigh, meaning that a prayer is not just uttering words, it requires mind and heart just as someone carrying a very valuable package, who’s extremely careful with it. Finally, “Your Contentiousness” alludes to the fact Bnei Yisrael in their will to accomplish the “Mitzvos” the commandments fully, they always had host of questions. As they learned Thora, they would argue with Moshe about the Halacha, just as Scholars and Rabbis do. This indeed was taking a toll on Moshe, nevertheless he was doing it full heartedly and with happiness.

Now we understand the true meaning of Moshe’s last words. As a “Faithful Shepperd” his only concern is his “Flock”. He’s moaning about the future, “I would be so happy and honored to keep on carrying you, pray for you and teach you”. Moshe’s words are indeed very deep as the Targum explained. Till today scholars are learning “His Thorah” and discover new “Treasures”. As we wrote last week, even his burial, outside of Eretz Yisrael, was with the intention to protect Bnei Yisrael for “Peor”. He IS Forever our “Faithful Sheppered”. May he intercede before Hashem and send us the Machiach immediately!!!

This Parasha always preceeds the fat of “Tisha Beav” when we’re mourning the destruction of both Temples. It seems obvious that a person should feel depressed, sad, negative and dislike that day. While we cannot undo the past, we can build the future. It’s understandable that the loss of both Temples also affects us, as if we had them no nation would’ve been able to treat us as they did. Our blood was free.

However, Hashem requires us to serve him with Joy as mentioned in Tehilim 121. How is it then possible to ask us to be sad and depressed on that day. In truth, this is missing the big picture, just as explained above. As this day coincides with the day so many miseries occurred to us, the latest being the day second world war started on Tisha Beav with the ensuing Holocaust as we know.

Though, our true mission on that day is to build, layer by layer, the Third and Everlasting “Beth Hamikdash”. Our tears, our repentance and above all our acceptance that “Hashem is One”, are the tools required to build an Everlasting Beth Hamikdash. As Moshe Rabeinu, our Master, we should rejoice from the burden and great opportunity to participate to such a Holy task.

This is a fact! As the evidence the Kabbalist teach us that this Shabbos is the Holiest of all. Even more than the one preceding Yom Kippur. During all other Shabbos, the time of Mercy is in the afternoon at the time of Mincha. Only then the Heavenly Gates open to accept our Prayers. Though, during this entire Shabbos, Hashem seats on the Throne of Mercy and Angels are instructed to keep the Heavenly Gates open as Hashem desires our prayers and wants to Fulfill them. Let’s Pray together this Shabbos with Moshe Rabeinu so Hashem sends back our “Faithful Shepperd” and together with him we enter Eretz Yisrael, Amen!

By Rabbi Shimon Fridmann – Din Torah Of North Miami Beach

305.399.0393 * [email protected]

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