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This final book of the five books of the Torah is the great oration of Moshe at the conclusion of his 40 years of leadership and service to God and the Jewish people. In it he reviews the events of that period and his observations and comments regarding those events and the behavior of the people of Israel during those decades of miraculous existence in the desert of Sinai.

The underlying question that this book and this week's reading of the Torah raises is why it’s necessary for us to hear the entire story once again. There is no doubt that the Torah, being the word of God so to speak, has accurately portrayed the events and details that occurred during this last 40 years of the lifetime of Moshe. So, why the repetition and expansion of the story and why does the Torah include the comments and descriptions of Moshe that at times seem to be in variance to the original narrative as it appears in the previous books of the Torah?
The predators of biblical criticism have always pounced on these seeming discrepancies in order to prove that somehow our holy Torah was produced by committee and various personages over many generations. The survival of the Jewish people, as outlined in this book of the Torah that we have just begun to read, gives factual denial to such theories. It is inconceivable to think that Moshe himself would not be aware of the differences in the text that he himself is presenting as the word of God to the Jewish people. There is a lesson to be learned here as always from every biblical narrative and statement.
We are all aware that reality with strict accuracy is one thing while the perceptions and understanding of those very events is a completely different matter. The Torah describes the events that occurred before the death of Moshe in accurate real detail. These are the events and facts as they occurred and to which Heaven, so to speak, testifies. But the Torah also teaches us that these were the impressions and understanding of those events by human beings – by the greatest of human beings, our teacher Moshe.
The Torah wishes to make clear to us the difficulty of achieving absolute truth and reality in our world. Everything that we see and believe is always refracted through our own life experiences and personal emotions. That is why no one always shares the same opinion regarding issues, personalities or events in our lives. The Talmud teaches us that if there are two witnesses to an event that come to testify in a Jewish court and agree to every detail as to what they saw, we immediately suspect them to being false witnesses and poor jurors.
So, the Torah allows us a peek into the soul and mind of Moshe and to reflect on how he saw the events of his lifetime and the story of the 40-year sojourn of the Jewish people in the desert of Sinai. It is always wise to understand the perception of others when we decide on a course of action no matter how convinced we are that we see it correctly and accurately.
Shabbat shalom
Rabbi Berel Wein

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