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Shabbat Parashat Vaetchanan 5774

Parashat Hashavua: No More Talking

Harav Yosef Carmel

Our parasha starts with Moshe’s request of his Maker – just as Hashem had shown him great miracles and feats of strength, so too He should allow Moshe to enter the good Land (Devarim 3:24-25). Hashem’s negative answer is very clear and firm: “It is enough for you. Do not continue to speak (daber) to me on this matter (davar)” (ibid. 26). The same root (davor), used usually for speaking, comes up twice in that pasuk.

The two themes – of miracles and of speech – remind us of the debate (if we can call it that) that took place between Hashem and Moshe at the burning bush. Moshe asked Hashem for the ability to demonstrate Hashem’s miracles in Egypt, with his staff being used to prove that he must have been sent by the omnipotent G-d. Hashem stressed something different to Moshe, telling him that he must use speech to convince people of what he was saying. If we take a look at the charge Moshe was given to take to Egypt in Shemot 7, we find the root davor no less than nine times, including appearances which seem superfluous.  

We have explained in the past that Hashem originally wanted Moshe to take Bnei Yisrael out of Egypt with speech and without signs. Moshe argued that the people needed to start with signs and wonders and only later could the people reach the point that they were ready to accept the stated word, as occurred at Sinai with the giving of the Torah. Because Hashem went along with Moshe’s request, there was no problem that Moshe could use his staff to get water out of the rock before the giving of the Torah. However, later, at Mei Meriva, Moshe was commanded to speak to the rock and was punished when he reverted back to hitting with his staff (see Rambam, Yesodei Hatorah 8:1).

Now that Moshe was unable to take the nation into the Land, leadership was given to Yehoshua, who was a man who was to use miracles. We find Yehoshua involved in the miracles of the splitting of the Jordan, the destruction of the wall of Yericho, the boulders from the heaven, and the stopping of the sun in Givon. The end of Moshe’s period is hinted at with the words, “Do not continue to speak (daber) to me on this matter.”

Let us pray that our belief in Hashem will be strengthened, until we will be able to once again hear the voice of Hashem speaking to us. Let us listen with one heart and respond in unity, “We will do and hear.”

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