Masei – The connection between Bamidbar and Devarim

This week we end Sefer Bamidbar, and transition to Devarim. The last Pasuk in this week’s Parsha is :
These are the Mitzvoth and Mishpatim which HaShem commanded in the hands of Moshe to the Bnei Yisroel on the banks of Moav by the river Jordan.
There are two similar Pesukim at the end of VaYikra. There they end “that HaShem commanded Bnai Yisroel at Har Sinai .”
What are these Pesukim coming to teach us? Why is there a difference between them?
To explain these I would like to bring a Yerushalmi that the Maharal explains. When Moshe was about to descend from Har Sinai, the Luchos which were six Tefachim in length were between Moshe and HaShem. Two Tefachim were in HaShem’s hand, two in Moshe’s, and two in the middle. At that moment of transfer, is when the sin of the Golden Calf took place.
Explains the Maharal : Why were there three parts with two Tefachim in the middle; rather than just two parts, three by HaShem and three by Moshe? This is to show a place of partnership between HaShem and us. If there was no empty part, there would be no place of partnership. The seemingly empty part is actually the part that is in partnership between us, and serves as the bond between HaShem and Bnai Yisroel.
There is another aspect to this explanation found in a different Sefer of the Maharal . There the Maharal explains the connection between HaShem and Bnei Yisroel as relating to the transition from BaMidbar to Devarim. Since Devarim begins with the words, “These are the words of Moshe”, that implies that there is a difference between the other four Chumashim and Devarim. Devarim is the part of the Torah where we accept it, and therefore it is said in the words that are appropriate for Moshe. Not Chalilah that Moshe said it on his own, but HaShem put these words that are closer to us into Moshe’s mouth to speak. What arises from this is that Devarim is the place of connection between HaShem and us.
According to that explanation, the end of Bamidbar is the point of connection between us and HaShem. As the Maharal explained, there needs to be a place of connection between HaShem and Bnei Yisroel which is the essence and highest level of Matan Torah. There are different expressions of that connection. One of them is here at the end of BaMidbar, as we transition to Devarim.
If we look at the writings of the Netziv in the various Pesukim, he amplifies this idea. He explains that the point of connection throughout history is the Torah Sh’Bal Peh. Therefore the end of BaMidbar emphasizes the Mishpatim, which he explains means the learning of the Torah Sh’Bal Peh. Now as we approach Devarim, and Moshe is leaving, and the Torah will now not be learnt by Nevuah from HaShem, but through our study, the idea of Torah Sh’bal Peh is taught. The Gemarra in Kerisus says that B’Yad Moshe is Talmud- the derivation of the Halacha. So this Pasuk says: This the Torah learnt by man which HaShem taught as Talmud, which is found as the Torah is in Moshe’s hands as he transfers it to Bnei Yisroel. It is by HaShem, in the hands of Moshe, and being transferred to Bnei Yisroel.
The Pesukim in Vayikra teach the same idea. The Pasuk says : These are the Mishpatim- the Torah learnt by Bnei Yisroel- which HaShem gave between Himself and Bnei Yisroel – the connection is the part in between –at Har Sinai.
So we can learn that Matan Torah is the connection between HaShem and Bnei Yisroel.
This connection is not just something that happened in the past. It is directly relevant to us at all times. The learning of Torah is not about studying information that was given. The proper way to learn Torah is as Chazal describe: with fear and awe as if standing by Har Sinai. There is even a Mitzvah to constantly remember Matan Torah. The place of connection, teach the Maharal and the Netziv, is through the Torah Sh’Bal Peh. That is where we are connected.
But there is one more point. As the Yerushalmi says the moment of transition is the time of greatest danger. That is exactly when the Satan brought about the sin of the golden calf. So if the place of connection is Torah Sh’Bal Peh, we need to always pay attention to the attack of the Satan against our connection to HaShem.
May we always realize the connection to HaShem through the Torah, and realize that it comes through the Torah taught by Chazal, through our Rebbeim and teachers.


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