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   by Jacob Solomon

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These are the words that Moses spoke to all Israelů concerning the (sins of the Israelites in the following places:) the Wilderness, the Arava, opposite the Red Sea, between Paran and between Tofel, and Lavan, and Hatzerot, and Di-Zahav (1:1 - translated according to Rashi).

The bulk of the Book of Deuteronomy contains Moses' final address to the Israelites before his death. He opened by reminding the Israelites of their past sins and rebellions from the Exodus onwards. In order not to offend or embarrass the Israelites, he alluded to the offences by stating where they took place (following Rashi 1:1). Thus for example, Di-Zahav was where the Israelites built the Golden Calf - which was made possible because they had "enough gold".

Applying this comment of Rashi to the text of the Parasha shows that Moses told the Israelites off in two stages. The first stage was by veiled reference - in the first verse. Once the Israelites were tuned into his words of castigation, he continued to detail the offences - which form a large part of the Parasha. However the content of his warnings shows clearly that he gave his listeners self-respect. When Moses reproved the people he did not refer to the misdeeds of any individual families, such as Korach's.

In addition, Rashi explains that the verse's emphasizing the time that Moses gave this veiled rebuke was chosen with care. It was just before his own death. He did not castigate the Israelites after the Spies, or after Baal Peor. In both cases they suffered extremely painful consequences. But he did not rub salt into the wounds by adding words of condemnation.

Instead, he waited until his final departure. That was the moment of truth for the Israelites. The leadership which up until ten had been taken for granted was being removed. The carpet was about to be pulled from under the feet of the people.

It was then that they would be ready to hear his final words. It was then that they would be able to view their own shortcomings most effectively. And it was then that they would be most receptive to his final message.

This is a message of the opening words of this Parasha. Before delivering a painful, but vital message, check that the moment is the one where the person, or people will be the most receptive - so that it will have its desired effect.

For those looking for more comprehensive material, questions and answers on the Parasha may be found at and on the material on the Haftara at .

Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.

Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site:

Also by Jacob Solomon:
From the Prophets on the Haftara

Test Yourself - Questions and Answers


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