The fifth of the Five Books of Moses is Deuteronomy--Devarim in Hebrew.

In certain ways the Book of Deuteronomy differs from the other four books of the Torah. Every word of Torah is Divine, a communication from G‑d to humanity. Nonetheless, within the Torah itself there are different ways in which this communication is expressed.

The first four books of the Torah are written in the third person, describing how G‑d created the world and chose the descendants of Abraham to be a sacred nation, the Jewish people. How G‑d took them out of slavery and gave them the Torah, and how they traveled through the desert for forty years, towards the Promised Land. These books have a spiritual, ethereal quality.

The Fifth Book, Devarim, is different. Devarim means "Words," and the book begins, "These are the words which Moses spoke to the Children of Israel." This book consists mainly of the talks given by Moses, preparing the Jews for the task ahead of them: to enter the Holy Land and live normal lives, guided by the Torah.

The Sages tell us that not one word of the Torah was Moses' own composition. All was transmitted by G‑d, through Moses, as expressed in the phrase "the Divine Presence spoke from the throat of Moses." Thus while the Book of Deuteronomy is a record of the speeches given by Moses, it is also a Divine text, just like the rest of the Torah, in which every letter is significant.

Jewish teaching tells us that Torah existed before the creation of the world in the form of Divine fire. There had to be several stages in the transmission of this Divine fire to the men and women in the daily world. The first four books of the Torah constitute one stage, in a sense still beyond the world. The Book of Deuteronomy is a second stage, preparing the Jew to bring the teachings of the Torah into application in daily life.

Then comes the chain of the great teachers of the Torah after Moses: Joshua, the Elders, the Prophets and eventually the Sages of the Mishnah and Talmud, reaching onwards to our own time.1 These teachers and Sages represent the perpetual "Moses" in each generation. At every stage, the figure of "Moses" is crucial - whether the first Moses or the later great Jewish leaders. It is the Moses of the time who shows how the ethereal and exalted Torah should be applied in practical terms, not only for the Jewish people, but for all humanity.

The later part of the Book of Deuteronomy tells of the exile of the Jewish people, and of their ultimate Redemption.2 With the coming of the Messiah the world will be filled with knowledge of G‑d, and all nations will keep the Seven Noahide Laws. At that stage, the process of revealing the Torah in the world will be complete.3