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At the beginning of this week’s Torah portion, Devorim, we find that “On that side of the Yardein (Jordan River), in the land of Moav, Moshe began explaining this Torah, saying.” Just what did Moshe explain? Rashi cites the words “explaining this Torah,” and tells us the following. “He explained it to them in seventy languages.”
We need to understand why there was a need for this. All of the Jews spoke Hebrew! Furthermore, they were on their way to conquer Israel and remain its sole inhabitants. Why would they translate the Torah; who would it benefit? Additionally, we can understand that every moment of Moshe Rabbeinu’s time was precious. Why was he specifically chosen to render the Torah into all languages?
Until the building of the Tower of Bovel (Babel), everyone spoke Hebrew. It is the Holy Tongue with which Hashem created the world. The sin of the generation that built the tower changed that. It brought division into the world. As the Torah says, “… one will not understand the language of his fellow.” As a result of their rebellion against the Almighty, they brought division into the world. This divisiveness is the exact opposite of unity, which goes together with holiness. There is one indivisible G-d. The Jews are the one nation, meaning the people of oneness. They draw Him down into the earth, meaning into all earthly matters, through the one Torah.
That is what is meant by Moshe translating the Torah into 70 languages. Moshe brought the unity of the “Holy Tongue,” Hebrew, into all of the spoken tongues. He was able to infuse the unity of the one G-d into this mundane world, through the one true Torah.
That also explains why Moshe had to be the one to translate the Torah. Only the very highest source can draw the Torah down to the very lowest spiritual level.
The same applies to the Moshe of every subsequent generation, meaning the leader of each generation. Only he can infuse holiness into this dark, physical world. Therefore, each of us must connect ourselves to our Moshe. Then we will be able to fulfill our mission of transforming this physical, material world into a dwelling place for Hashem above.
I wish one and all a good Shabbos and healthy summer! May we merit the time of the complete redemption now!
Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn
Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 3, Pages 862-863
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש
חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס
. Our Parshah, Devorim 1:5.
. Talmud Yerushalmi Megillah, Chapter 1, Section 9. This is also brought in Rashi’s commentary to Parshas Noach, Bereishis 11:1.