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Moshiach in the Parsha - Devarim

The past ten months we have been reading in the Torah about what happened from when the world was created up to the point where the Jewish people were ready to enter the Promised Land. This week we will start the book of Devarim. Hashem had told Moshe that he would not take the people into Israel. (A true leader always stays with his people. All the people that Moshe had taken out of Egypt were buried in the desert; Moshe was buried there too.) Before giving over the leads to Yehoshua, who had been appointed his successor, Moshe gives a long speech to prepare the Jewish people for the future. This speech is the book of Devarim.

“It was in the fortieth year…Moshe started clarifying the Torah.” Obviously the Torah had been clarified and explained by Moshe as soon as it was given on Mt. Sinai. Our sages tell us that what it means is, that he explained it to them in the seventy languages. (The Torah always takes on the number seventy for languages existing in the world. These were the seventy languages that were spoken when Hashem mixed up all the languages by the tower of Bavel. All other languages are based on these seventy.)

Later on in the Torah we will read that Moshe commands the Jewish people to write down the Torah on stones as they cross the Jordan River into the Holy Land ‘in a clear manner’. There, too, ‘clear’ is understood to mean the seventy languages.

There was once a non-Jewish king by the name of Talmai. He got five great (Jewish) scholars to translate the Torah into Greek for him. That day was to the Jewish people “as hard as the day the golden calf was made, because the Torah couldn’t be translated properly”, we are told.

This statement needs a lot of clarification.

From the fact that Moshe asked for the Torah to be written in all languages it seems that it is a positive thing to do. Why then was it such a tragedy that it was translated again many years later?

“The Torah couldn’t be translated properly.” Why weren’t those scholars able to translate the Torah properly if the translation had been made many years earlier?
Greek is one of the seventy languages!

“The Torah couldn’t be translated properly.” This is a general statement. From this it would seem that not only was there a problem with the Greek translation, rather NO language would be able to properly translate the Torah.

To find this statement in connection with the Greek language is very interesting.

We all know, that Torah scrolls and tefilin are written in Hebrew. The law is that if they were to be written in any other language, they wouldn’t be valid. The only exception to this rule is Greek!

Even more: The Jerusalem Talmud tells us that after trying to translate the Torah into different languages, the conclusion was made that the only language that would give over the content of the Torah properly is Greek!

The hardest to understand though is the comparison between not being able to translate the Torah properly and the day the golden calf was made. This seems to be a very extreme statement.

The DAY the Torah was translated was like the DAY the golden calf was made.

It is interesting to note that the emphasis here is put on the days. The golden calf was made a day BEFORE it was served as an idol. Aharon had given the idea of making the calf saying: “There will be a holiday for Hashem tomorrow.” In his mind the calf would keep the people occupied for another day till Moshe’s return the next morning.

If all had gone well and they wouldn’t have gotten up very early the next morning, Moshe would have returned and everyone would have realized that the calf was worthless. Then indeed it would have been a true holiday for Hashem. It would have proven His existence to all the idol worshippers. In other words, the making of the golden calf in itself could have led to a ‘holiday for Hashem tomorrow’ and wasn’t necessarily a sin. Still, it is considered a bad DAY, because it was a day focused on making an idol; not a day focused on Hashem. It was a day that had a potential to have a very negative outcome. (Which is what happened.)

Similarly we can say that the actual translation to Greek wasn’t the main issue. It was the potential danger it contained. Since it wasn’t possible to translate the Torah properly, it would be possible for Talmai, and later others, to misinterpret sections of the Torah.

We find that this same king Talmai, on a different occasion, gathered the seventy two elders and put them up in seventy two different houses without revealing his intentions of why he was doing so. Then he instructed each one separately to translate to Torah into Greek. In this way he would be sure to get the real translation. If one of the sages would make a change, he would realize it immediately by comparing it to the other translations. A miracle occurred and all seventy elders made the same changes!

All the changes they made were necessary to prevent Talmai from interpreting the Torah the wrong way. To give an example: the first words in the Torah are Bereishit Bara Elokim. Literally translated, this would read “In the beginning created G-d.” This could be understood as “bereishit – name of a being, created A) G-d B) the heavens and the earth. That would imply that there is another supernal being aside for Hashem. The sages therefore changed it to “Elokim bara bereishit.” -G-d created in the beginning. In this way it could only be understood as ONE G-d creating the heavens and the earth.

The comparison of the DAY the Torah was translated to the DAY the calf was MADE (but not worshiped) is in that, that they both had a potential danger to have a negative outcome.

Obviously, when the Torah makes such a comparison there is a deeper connection between the two occurrences mentioned other then being potentially dangerous.

Why did the people, who had just witnessed the strongest G-dly revelation ever, create an idol? Didn’t they know that gold isn’t a substitute for the creator of the world?

The Torah commentators explain at length what the source of their mistake was. They were not looking for a substitute for Hashem; rather they were looking for a substitute for Moshe. Moshe was the connection between man and G-d. He was called ‘ish ha’elokim’ – ‘the G-d man’. His entire being was so closely connected with Hashem, that one would think he saw G-d when looking at Moshe. Moshe was the example of how one should be. Being an ‘ish’, man, but at the same time totally devoted to G-d. Not only BELIEVING that there is a G-d, but KNOWING He exists.

Because Moshe did not return after the forty days, as he had promised, (we al know that they had miscalculated the days) the people decided to find a new link between them and Hashem. Only this time they would do it even better. Not only where they looking for another HUMAN to be their connection, they wanted a PHYSICAL OBJECT to be their connection. This would be able to connect G-dliness not only with their bodies, but also with they rest of the physical world. The idea in itself wasn’t so bad.

Hashem Himself actually asked for a physical house to be built for him for that same reason. “Build me a house so I will dwell within you”. The reason why today we face east when we pray is because the PHYSICAL city of Jerusalem (and there, the place of the temple) is the place where all our prayers go up to heaven.

The medrash explains the reason why, out of all animals, a calf was chosen to serve as this connecting object.

When Hashem revealed himself on Mt. Sinai, he came down in a chariot. This chariot is obviously not a physical car. It is a spiritual being that we read about in the prophets. One of the four carriers of this ‘chariot’ is a being with the face of an ox. Kabalah explains exactly what this means. (What it DOESN’T mean is that there is a being with the face of an ox.)

The calf was ‘taken’ (to quote the medrash) from this chariot.

The mistake was that all these beautiful ideas came from man’s mind. At that time the only existing connection with the higher worlds was going through Moshe. The connection through a physical object only became possible after HASHEM commanded his people to make Him a dwelling. The calf did not have the ability to connect the physical with the spiritual because it was not built by Hashem’s command.

When the medrash tells us that the calf is the ‘ox’ from the chariot, it teaches us the same idea. The calf was TAKEN AWAY, disconnected, from the chariot. It was a spiritual being when it was serving Hashem by carrying His chariot. Once it came down as a physical calf, DISCONNECTED from the chariot, it became a source of idol worship.

Creating a physical being, even with positive intentions, but not by command of Hashem, can lead to idol worship. The day that happened is therefore also recorded as a negative day even though it had a potential to be a ‘holiday for Hashem tomorrow’.

“The day the Torah was being translated was like the day the golden calf was made because it couldn’t be translated properly.”
If it had been translated literally, it would have left room to think there is more than One G-d, as we explained before. This is exactly the same that happened the day the calf was made. There was a potential cause for not accepting Hashem’s unity.

But just like by the calf, there was a potential for a positive outcome too. When the Talmud discusses whether or not it is permitted to write Torah scrolls in different languages, it gives permission to write them in Greek, as a RESULT of what happened with Talmai.

A Torah scroll not written in Hebrew has no holiness to it. Translating the Torah without being commanded by Hashem is as useful as making a golden calf. The holiness of the Torah will not enter the foreign language. Only when translated as per instruction from above, as was done by Moshe, and later by the Jewish people as they were crossing the Jordan, does the holiness get transmitted to the foreign language.

After the Torah had been translated to Greek, in a way that it wouldn’t leave room for doubts about Hashem’s unity; it became permissible to use that language in the future too. It had been ELEVATED to a level similar to the level of holiness the original Hebrew has.

The day the Torah was translated could have led to idol worship, but instead it showed Hashem’s unity to the nations.

The day the calf was made unfortunately had a different outcome at that time. However, since Aharon pronounced the following day as a holiday for Hashem, there will come a time hat it will indeed be a holiday. That day was the 17th of Tamuz.

This year it was still a fast day and the beginning of the three weeks commemorating the destruction of the temple, but next year after Moshiach has come, it will be a holiday, as the prophet tells us.

Although we don’t have the power to elevate the remaining sixty-nine languages to the level of holiness which allows them to be used for writing Torah scrolls, we can use them anyway to teach the world the unity of Hashem.

May the writing of this Dvar Torah in English be the ‘deed that tips the scale’ to bring Moshiach so that we will celebrate the Yom Tov of 9 Av in Yerushalayim with Moshiach NOW!!!!

* * *

"See, I have set the land before you. Come and possess the land G-d swore unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give unto them and to their descendants after them." (Devarim 1:8)

Rashi comments: "'Come and possess the land' - there is no one to contest the matter, and you need not wage war. Indeed, if they had not sent the spies, they would not have needed any weapons."

The Almighty Himself had promised the Jewish People that He would give them the Land of Israel, thus, obviously, no one can contest this.

The People of Israel, therefore, could have taken possession of the land without a battle, and even without any armor that would scare off a potential enemy.

Unfortunately, however, the people lacked faith.

They did not rely on G-d to bring them into the land in a miraculous way. They demanded, "Let us send men ahead of us, to explore for us the land and to bring us back a report..." (Devarim 1:22) Thus they spoiled that opportunity.

Their attitude and conduct made it necessary for them to follow natural procedures in taking over the land: they met opposition on the part of the in habitants which forced them to wage wars in order to assert their Divine right to the land.

There is a moral in this for our own times and present condition:

Of the future redemption by Moshiach it is said that it is analogous to the exodus from Egypt: "As in the days of your going out from the land of Egypt, I will show them wondrous things." (Michah 7:15)

In fact, the wonders and miracles of the Messianic redemption will exceed those of the exodus.

If, then, the entry into, and settlement of, the Land of Israel by those who were freed from the Egyptian exile was supposed to be in a miraculous way - "There is no one to contest the matter, and you need not wage war" - how much more so will this be the case with the Messianic redemption in our own days!

Nowadays, too, just as then, this matter depends on the Jewish people themselves.

We must show absolute faith in G-d and His promise that the entire Land of Israel belongs to the People of Israel!

We must not be afraid to inform the nations of the world, clearly and unequivocally, that the Land of Israel is Israel's eternal legacy.

"Should the people of the world say to Israel, `You are robbers, because you took by force the lands of the seven nations (of Canaan),' they can respond to them: `The whole earth belongs to the Holy One, blessed be He. He created it and gave it to whom He saw fit. (The Land of Israel) was given to (the nations) by His Will, and by His Will He took it from them and gave it to us!'" (Rashi on Genesis 1:1)

When we shall demonstrate this true and absolute faith in G-d, we shall merit immediately that "No one will contest this, and there will be no more wars nor the need for any weapons": "I shall break from the earth the bow, the sword and warfare, and I shall make them lie down securely!" (Hosea 2:20)



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