Why do we talk so much?

I don't mean the obvious things like "There's food there" or "There's a big scary thing coming our way—let's run!" or "I want a raise." I mean the endless self-explaining we engage in; the perpetual conversation we feel obliged to "make"; the quadrillions of words unleashed each day in stacks of books, in miles of newsprint, over the airwaves and through copper and fiberoptic wires. Why this need to put everything into words, as if nothing truly exists until it is trimmed and stretched to fit a set of humanly emitted sounds?

Because there's nothing that the human being wants—and needs—more than to play G‑d.

G‑d did it: He spoke reality into being. He said, "Let there be light!" and there was light. He said, "Let the waters gather and the land be revealed!" and oceans and continents were formed. But man looks at G‑d's creation and sees it as something still unformed, still lacking definition. So we speak and speak and speak, categorizing, quantifying and qualifying G‑d's world in an effort to give it meaning and purpose.

Of course, there are differences. G‑d is infinite and omnipotent; we are finite and fallible. G‑d spoke light into being; we have been granted the power to speak that light into a brighter, more focused luminescence—but we are just as likely to speak it into darkness. We can verbalize the continents as countries and provinces of a productive world community—or we can speak into them boundaries of animosity and strife.

But that's the "partner in creation" that G‑d wanted: a partner who is just as likely to run the shop to ground as to build it up. A free, independent partner, whose choices are fully his own—and therefore fully his responsibility and fully his achievement. Because G‑d wanted true partners to His endeavor, not a bunch of employees and messenger boys (He had plenty of those already when He created man—they're called "angels").

A true partner doesn't only do his part in the running and the development of the business; he also participates in drawing up the mission statement, the modus operandi, the rules and regulations.

This week's Torah reading begins the book of Devarim ("Words"), also called Mishneh Torah, ("Repetition of the Torah", hence the Anglicized-Latin Deuteronomy, or "Second Law"). Devarim consists of a 37-day long speech by Moses, beginning on the 1st of Shevat and ending on the 7th of Adar—the day of Moses' passing—in the year 2488 from creation (1273 bce).

In his speech, Moses recaps the major events and laws that are recorded in the Torah's other books. Moses wrote those books as well, but there he transcribed everything as he received it from G‑d, while in Deuteronomy he says it "in his own words." (Thus, a passage that in the Book of Exodus or Leviticus is prefaced by "and G‑d spoke to Moses, saying," is introduced in Deuteronomy with "At that time, G‑d said to me.")

Nevertheless, the Book of Deuteronomy belongs to the "Written Torah," in which not only the content but also the words and letters are considered to be of Divine origin. Our sages explain that Moses had so totally abnegated his ego to the Divine will that "The Divine presence spoke from his throat"--Moses' own words are also G‑d's own words.

As such, the Book of Deuteronomy acts as a bridge between the Written Torah and the "Oral Torah." The Oral Torah includes the Talmud and the Midrashim, the commentaries and the codes, the Zohar and the Kabbalah, and "everything that a worthy student will expound before his master"--everything that has been produced by 33 centuries of Torah scholars studying and interpreting the Torah in accordance with the Sinaic tradition. In the Oral Torah, which is generated by minds and mouths less perfect than Moses', the content is Divine, but the words and letters are human—man's own. Because G‑d has granted the human mouth a mandate not only to shape His world, but also to participate in the formulation of the Torah—the laws, the blueprint, the "source code" of creation.

Why do we talk so much? Because that's why we're here. Our words—spoken or written, printed or pixeled—break and made worlds.