Rebuking or Insinuating

Parshas Devorim

The book of Devorim consists of Moshe’s final address to the nation, delivered over the last thirty-seven days of his life. Moshe began with veiled rebuke to the people. He merely referenced places where they had sinned, admonishing them in code, and leaving it to them to figure out about what Moshe was chastising them. In Moshe’s approach, he protects their honor as a righteous community. To preserve the dignity of the nation, Moshe couched his criticism in unclear terms.

Question 

A few pesukim into Moshe’s rebuke, he changes his tune. Not only is he no longer delivering in code, he is firing all guns in a very explicit reprimand.  Moshe makes open reference, not allusion, to the sin of the Spies, and their slander of the Land of Israel.  What happened to protecting the honor of the people?

Answer

Most of the mistakes that were made during the Jews’ sojourn in the desert were due to momentary weakness. Yes, they slipped and succumbed to temptation, but then they did Teshuva and brought their spiritual level back up. In the event of the Spies slander of the Holy Land, Moshe was concerned that the nation might relapse. They were soon to begin a new phase in their collective history – that of autonomy, with armies to overpower and territory to defend. Perhaps their fear of conquering the Land would resurface, and defeat them. There was, therefore, no place for subterfuge, and Moshe was open in reproving the Jewish nation for the sin of the Spies.

Lesson

One should bear in mind future patterns when confronting past situations. There is a distinction between dealing with those issues that have healed and those which may relapse.  

Story 

There was once a an old Gerrer chassid in old age home. They used to give out newspapers to the residents, which he would always refuse.  Someone once came over and pointed out that the paper is produced by scrupulous people, who are G-d fearing, there is nothing offensive is in it. That could be true, he responded, but when he was younger, reading improper material almost led him away from his Jewish roots. He accepted on himself never to read newspapers ever again so as too remove any remote chance of being ensnared in what had previously trapped him. Even though this newspaper is “kosher,” he is afraid of tripping up on the same mistake again. 

Weekly Halacha

A broken window, may be covered temporarily with cardboard (not wood) without using nails.

3 Comments

  1. With this idea we have a starting point to answer another question. In Devorim , Moshe only alludes to the sin of the golden calf. Later in Eikev he speaks about it openly. Why the change? There are different elements involved of the sin some of which were momentary weaknesses, and some of which could have resurfaced. Hence even in one sin it was necessary to hint and be explicit.

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