On the Banks of the Jordan

The Book of Devarim represent Moshe’s farewell message to the Jewish people. As they prepared for a transition in leadership — from his guidance to that of Joshua — and a geographic transition — from the desert to Eretz Yisrael — Moshe reviewed the entire Torah for them, summarizing and highlighting its different messages.

Similarly, every year, the Book of Devarim marks a time of transition. For it is read during the final months of the year, and concluded during the initial celebrations of the new year to come. It is a time for summing up, for taking stock of where we are, and seeking direction where we are going. And the insights of these Torah readings are uniquely suited to aid in this process,1 providing us with direction and guidance in this sequence of spiritual change.

In this context, the teachings of Likkutei Sichos serve as an invaluable resource. How does one negotiate a transition from one frame of reference to another? By focusing on a point that transcends both frames of reference, by highlighting a penetrating truth that provides a guiding light with which one can define his new surroundings. The insights which the Rebbe provides in this text are aptly suited for such a purpose.

Hand in Hand

Negotiating transitions is not easy. In such a situation, the last thing a person would want is to be together with someone with whom he could not communicate and share. On the contrary, at such times, it’s natural to reach out to another person for a helping hand. Mutual trust and cooperation are keys to success; friends help one another.

Such an approach was clearly reflected in the composition of this text, for it fused together the efforts of many different contributors. The full list of all those who contributed is too long to mention, but notice should be made of the following: Eliyahu Touger who was responsible for the translation, Gershom Gale who did the editing, Rabbi Aharon Leib Raskin who annotated the sources and checked the authenticity of the translation, Yosef Yitzchok Turner who provided the layout and topography, Uri Kaploun who was always available for counsel and guidance, and Rabbi Yonah Avtzon, Director of Sichos In English, who supervised every phase of the project’s development.

Looking to Eretz Yisrael

The transition intoEretz Yisrael cannot be considered as merely an ordinary change of locale. Our Rabbis explain that Moshe Rabbeinu desired to lead the Jewish people into Eretz Yisrael, for by doing so, he would bring about the ultimate Redemption. Had he led them into Eretz Yisrael, there never would have been an exile.

When Moshe was informed by G‑d that he would not be allowed to enter Eretz Yisrael, he began instructing the people by reciting the Book of Devarim. Implied is that these teachings would in some measure compensate for the lack of his personal input and spur the people to complete the Divine service required of them to bring the Redemption.

In this vein, a parallel can also be drawn to the teachings of the Rebbe, for they are a foretaste of the teachings of Mashiach and enable us to anticipate and precipitate the coming of that future era.

May the study of the Rebbe’s teachings encourage us all to take our part in shouldering the mission of spiritual purpose which the Rebbe taught. And may this in turn lead to overtly apparent good and blessing, including the ultimate blessing, the coming of the Redemption, and the fulfillment of the prophecy,2 “And those who repose in the dust will arise and sing,” with the Rebbe at our head.

Sichos In English