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Devarim: Shechinah Speaking

“These are the things that Moses spoke to all of Israel” (אֵלֶּה הַדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר מֹשֶׁה אֶל כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל).

The entire book of Deuteronomy is a series of speeches given by Moses during the final 37 days of his life (from the first of Shevat through the 7th of Adar). Nonetheless, it is part of the Torah—the word of God. The sages describe this special situation with the expression, “The Divine Presence [the Shechinah] speaks from within Moses’ throat.”[1]

Moses is absolutely unique, as the Torah tells us, “And there never rose again a prophet like Moses in Israel.”[2] Nonetheless, Moses’ soul returns in every generation. In the words of the sages, “there is one speaker/leader in every generation”[3] (דַּבָּר אֶחָד לְדוֹר). This is the Moses of the generation, from whose throat the Divine Presence speaks. The concept of God’s Presence is the same as the Congregation of Israel (כְּנֶסֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל), which is the root of all the souls of Israel. When the Moses of the generation speaks, we feel that he is speaking in the name of the entire Congregation of Israel.

How can we identify the Moses of the generation? The sages gave us the following parameter, “If the teacher is like an angel of God, they should seek Torah from his mouth.”[4] The Ba’al Shem Tov explained[5] that the word “angel” (מַלְאָךְ) is a permutation of the word “like a person who is silent” (כְּאִלֵּם) revealing that the true teacher is silent before he speaks. This is what the sages relate regarding the angels called chashmal, which means: chash (silence) and afterward, mal (speaks). The teacher’s silence before he speaks demonstrates his nullification before God. Then, having nullified his own sense of self, his throat is clear for the Divine Presence to speak out of it, just like Moses.

After we connect to the Moses of the generation, it becomes clear that inside each and every one of us, there is a “spark of Moses.” The revelation of this spark makes it possible for those connected to him to be leaders, as well – as Moses later describes, “I took your tribal leaders, wise and experienced men, and appointed them leaders over you.”[6]

And so, there are two speakers/leaders for the generation. This is alluded to in the name of the Book of Deuteronomy (דְּבָרִים), which can be read as “leaders” (דַּבָּרִים), which is the plural form of “leader.” The head speaker/leader of every generation is Moses, and the second speaker is each and every one of us.

(From Rabbi Ginsburgh’s book Shaashuim Yom Yom)

[1]. Zohar 3:7a; 232a. Shemot Rabbah 3:15.

[2]. Deuteronomy 34:10.

[3]. Sanhedrin 8a.

[4]. Chagigah 15b.

[5]. Ben Porat Yosef, Lech Lecha.

[6]. Deuteronomy 1:15.

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