Devarim – Utopia

This week we start reading the fifth and final book of the Torah, Devarim. The Rabbeinu Bachye has a very deep and profound insight into the connection between all five books. As complex and lengthy as it is, it is worth translating for its importance. There is also a specific lesson, out of many, I have gleaned and would like to share from this monumental piece.
The Rabbeinu Bachye observes: “that because this is the fifth volume and last of the Five Books of Torah therefore I want to enlighten you here about the order of the Five Books of the Torah, why they are specifically placed one after the other in the order it is in. It is a known fact that even though there are five books but, as intended and hinted to in the Book of Breishis, they are all connected building up to one idea. The reason why it starts with the Book of Breishis is because the nuance of the world (that it was created from nothing to something) is the root of faith. Through faith of The Nuance it is self-explanatory how Hashem is constantly involved in all aspects of the world, and through Hashem’s involvement in the world we can understand the concept of reward and punishment. Since these [three] topics are the central tenants of the Torah, therefore the Book of Breishis was set aside to discuss the nuance of the world, and His involvement with Adam which He gave positive and negative mitzvahs, and the reward of placing Adam in Gan Eden, and punishment when he was banished from there. Also the story of the flood is greatly apparent and clear proof about The Nuance, Hashem’s constant involvement, as well as reward and punishment, for the righteous Noach and his children escaped the flood out of their merits and their generation was destroyed for they deserved punishment. After Sefer Brieshis is Sefer Shemos, which discusses the story of our forefathers, Avraham, Yitzchokand Yaakov who strengthened themselves in faith and are the root of understanding Hashem’s oneness. This is why Sefer Breishis is next to Sefer Shemos because faith in The Nuance of the World leads a person to faith in Hashem’s oneness. (Parenthetically, the Rabbeinu Bachye seemingly says Sefer Shemos starts with the stories of our forefathers, which really start in the Torah portion of Lech Licha in Sefer Breishis, not the slavery of their grandchildren in Egypt. I don’t know what to make of this but the message is still clear.) After that is Sefer Vayikra which is the story of the sacrifices, it is known that the main oneness and unity with Hashem is through the sacrifices which harness all the powers in the world together towards one purpose, the Almighty. A righteous person, through his offering is unified with the Almighty who created everything. After Sefer Vayikra comes Sefer Bamidbar, which talks about going into the Land of Israel. They are placed next to each other to explain to us that the main location for the sacrifices was intended to be in Israel, for immediately after the Jews received the Torah on Har Sinai they were supposed to enter the Land of Israel if not for the sin of the spies which kept them in the desert for forty years. After Sefer Bamidbar comes this book of Devarim, and because the Jews were not permanently settled in the land during the period of both Bais Hamikdashes, rather it will only come in the final redemption where there will be no more exile, therefore Hashem wanted to conclude the Torah with this book which discusses in the end (Torah portion of Ha’azinu) the final redemption which in itself will be a nuance in the world and is the whole purpose of world’s existence. Similar to Sefer Breishis which began by way of inserting the end in the beginning so too is the connection of all five books of the Torah one after the other, for The Nuance is the reason for the Oneness, and the Oneness is fully experienced through the sacrifices, and the sacrifices are mainly designated for the Land of Israel, and the Jews only reach their perfection in time by the final redemption when there will not be any more exile.” (Click here for Hebrew text.)

In summary, The Five books of the Torah share one theme, which is building up towards the ultimate purpose of creation – to be unified with The Creator. As it says in the beginning of Mesillas Yesharim (Path of the Just, Chapter 1): “The purpose of creation is to bask and delight in Hashem’s presence.” It takes five steps to meet this goal: The first two are intellectual and emotional levels of believing; that Hashem created the world out of nothing, constantly taking care of its upkeep, and belief in reward and punishment, as well as believing in Hashem’s oneness and unity with Hashem. This is all discussed in the first two books of the Torah, Breishis and Shemos, which relate the story of creation, Adam and Chava, Noah and the flood, as well as the stories of our forefathers, the Jewish people in slavery, redemption, being given the Torah, and the building of the mishkan. The third book of Vayikra takes this intellectual and emotional belief to a physical level, with the korbanos [offerings], which are used to unify ourselves with our Creator. The fourth book, Bamidbar, adds the place; this unification with the One Almighty takes place, for the most part, in the Land of Israel. Finally, the fifth step, in Devarim, is time. The perfect or ultimate place and time for this unification with Hashem is in the final redemption, may it come speedily in our days.

What is fascinating to note is that one would think that something of such importance, the purpose of all of creation, should happen all at once. Why take such a long time? It has been thousands of years; why the rigmarole?

We must therefore say that order and process  are integral parts of the ultimate perfection, and without it, it’s not ultimately perfect. Meaning, Hashem, in his infinite wisdom, understands that part of creating this world with its ultimate purpose is to do  so with a process  Without that process, then, there is something incomplete or imperfect.

If that is the case, then the process for creating a state of perfection must be very profound and complex, with an abundance of subtleties and minute differences that must be ironed out throughout history, in order to ultimately arrive at the final state of perfection and unity with Hashem.

In any event, we see from here the utmost importance any process and order must have in our lives. One must not think that he or she  can go out of order or just skip the line.