This week’s Torah reading is the first portion in the book of Deuteronomy, or Devarim in Hebrew. The Book of Devarim is also called “Mishneh Torah,” meaning “Repetition of the Torah.” Moses began reviewing the Torah with the Jewish people before his passing.
The timing of the Repetition of the Torah was especially significant for the Jewish people in that it served to prepare them for their entry into the Holy Land. During their years of wandering in the desert all their needs, food, water, clothing, and shelter were miraculously provided.
Now the Jews were on the verge of leaving this place where for years they had had no material cares, and were about to settle in a land and a way of life which necessitated tilling, sowing , reaping, and all the other mundane preoccupations of life. It was now that they were exposed to the Repetition of the Torah, for they needed an additional and special measure of spiritual re-invigoration and inspiration, so that they would not become materialistic and debased in the material world that lay ahead.
On the contrary, the whole purpose of their coming into the Land was to instill holiness, to elevate and make more spiritual the material aspects of daily life – thereby transforming the material into the spiritual through Torah, worship of G-d, performance of His Divine precepts, giving charity and doing acts of loving kindness.
The Divine purpose of our entry into the Holy Land – to elevate the environment and transform the material into the spiritual – is the very same purpose that every individual Jew has in his mundane activities. As Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Chasidism, expressed it: “The material things of Jews are spiritual; G-d gives us material things, that we may transform them into spiritual.” G-d grants the Jew parnasa – livelihood – and he, in turn, utilizes the money for mitzva-purposes in general and for the support of Torah-study in particular, since the study of the Torah is equivalent to all the other mitzvot combined. In this way we truly convert the material (money and worldly possessions) into the spiritual.
Transformation of the material to the spiritual can be achieved in other ways also, such as through elevating and refining one’s business or professional environment by setting a personal example of Torah-guided honesty and good conduct. Some people think that the main purpose of a Torah education is to train Rabbis, Shochtim and other functionaries.
This is not so; the essential and main purpose of religious training is to prepare Jewish laymen who, before going out into the world of business, trade or profession are imbued and permeated with Torah-values and with “Yiras Shomayim”, fear of G-d. Such laymen, living within this society of ours, elevate their entire environment by inspiring every Jew with whom they come in contact, with love of G-d, love of Torah, and love of one’s fellow – in actual daily practice.
In all matters of sanctity one must go from strength to strength, constantly increasing holiness; one must strive to produce more and more spirituality out of material things. In this way the blessing of “Prosperity through charity” becomes realized, with G-d giving material blessings in a growing measure, enabling us to create more, and still more, spiritually, at a reciprocal pace from strength to strength. Moshiach NOW!!!