Things, Things

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אֵלֶּה הַדְּבָרִים, אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר מֹשֶׁה אֶל-כָּל-יִשְׂרָאֵל, בְּעֵבֶר, הַיַּרְדֵּן

The title of this post is a reference to a comment by Leora when I asked last Thursday what Devarim evoked.

The fifth book of the Torah has several Hebrew names. The most commonly used is Seifer D’varim, short for Seifer v’eileh ha-d’varim, the Book of “these are the words”, taken from its opening line; these are the words (that Moshe addressed to all Israel on the other side of the Jordan).

In Hebrew, Devarim means words or things. The polysemy of the word davar suggests that when Moshe spoke he hoped that the people would hear words and then translate them into things, i.e. tangible actions. Judaism isn’t a creed that can be summed up in a few words, it is about being and doing.

Moses offers his words, words of Torah, as a legacy, a concrete way
to accompany the people in his absence but also as vade mecum for each of us.

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7 thoughts on “Things, Things

  1. Despite having studied Latin, I had to look up “vade mecum” – go with me. So I’ll go with you as you study Devarim this summer.

    Words and things – I intended to study Devarim a bit on Shabbat, but I got a little sidetracked by the story of Pinchas, which I find fascinating. As Klara remarked on my blog, when Pinchas found fault, he didn’t disagree respectfully, he just stabbed them. Hopefully, this is just a way to deal with extreme situations. I’m not quite sure what to do with that story.

  2. Lovely, thought-inducing post! I think your comment about Judaism not being a creed that can be summed up in a few words hits the nail on the head. I seriously underestimated how rich a life it is…

    Looking forward to your next post on this theme!

  3. Thank you for this beautiful post!

    a concrete way to accompany the people in his absence but also as vade mecum for each of us.
    This fits in well with the fact that the Torah is referred to as divrei Elokim chayim – the living words of God. The Torah is organic and thus continues to be relevant even in our own generation.

  4. Pingback: A Week Online « Ilana-Davita

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