This Parsha begins the last of the Five Books of The Torah, Sefer Devarim. This Book is also called Mishneh Torah, "Repetition of the Torah" (hence the Greek/English title Deuteronomy). Sefer Devarim relates what Moshe told Bnei Yisrael during the last five weeks of his life, as they prepared to cross the Jordan into Eretz Yisrael. Moshe reviews the mitzvot, stressing the change of lifestyle they are about to undergo: from the supernatural existence of the desert under Moshes guidance to the apparently natural life they will experience under Yehoshuas leadership in the Land.
The central theme this week is the sin of the spies, the meraglim. The Parsha opens with Moshe alluding to the sins of the previous generation who died in the desert. He describes what would have happened if they hadnt sinned by sending spies into Eretz Yisrael. Hashem would have given them without a fight all the land from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates, including the lands of Ammon, Moav and Edom. He details the subtle sins that culminate in the sin of the spies, and reviews at length this incident and its results. The entire generation would die in the desert; Moshe would not enter Eretz Yisrael. He reminds them that their immediate reaction to Hashems decree was to want to "go up and fight" to redress the sin. He recounts how they wouldnt listen when he told them not to go, that they no longer merited vanquishing their enemies miraculously. They ignored him and suffered a massive defeat. They were not allowed to fight with the kingdoms of Esav, Moav or Ammon these lands were not to be part of the map of Eretz Yisrael in the meantime. When the conquest of Canaan will begin with Sichon and Og, it will be via natural warfare.
Youre A Star!
"Hashem, your G-d has multiplied you and behold! you are like the stars of the heaven in abundance." (1:4)
When the Jewish People fulfill G-ds will, they are like the stars. There is no competition or envy among the stars. No star was ever heard to complain that the light of another was brighter than his. Similarly a righteous person is happy with the light that G-d has bestowed on him, for he knows it is not his own light anyway.
Sometimes the light of a star is not immediately apparent. A cloud of cosmic gas or some other obstruction may mask that light. So too are there are untold numbers of holy people amongst our nation who deliberately hide their light "under a bushel."
And just as the stars will live forever, so is the Jewish People an eternal nation who will radiate the light of G-d forever.
- Source: based on the Sifri in Parshat Ekev