A collection of excerpts from Torah Club on the weekly Torah Portions, from Genesis to Deuteronomy.
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Expounding the Torah is a job for every disciple. In the same way that it is incumbent upon us to spread the gospel in every place and at every time, it is also incumbent upon us to teach the Torah. The Torah is very much a part of the gospel, and the message of the gospel is quite meaningless without the Torah.
Ordinarily, repentance is a simple matter. When we realize we have done something wrong, we simply need to confess our wrongdoing, turn around and do the opposite. However, it is not always so simple. Sometimes our sin creates consequences that make it impossible for us to reverse course.
A person should never consider himself to be above learning Torah. If the Torah really does convey the words of the living God, then it continues to impart revelation regardless of how many times a person has read it. It will always be new. When Moses recapitulated the Torah in the words of Deuteronomy, he delivered the same Torah, but it became like new material as he spoke it.
Moses observed that the children of Israel were an innumerable host, like the stars of heaven. This was the fulfillment of a promise God had made to Abraham. One night Abraham was in his tent when God appeared to him in a vision and said, "Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; your reward shall be very great" (Genesis 15:1). Abraham objected that a reward was of little use to him since he had no heir to give it to. Then the LORD took Abraham outside the tent and showed him the myriad stars splayed across the nighttime sky. The LORD said, "Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them. ... So shall your descendants be" (Genesis 15:5). It was this promise that Abraham believed and God credited to him as righteousness.
Moses carefully crafted his address to Israel to give them confidence in God and certainty in His power and promises. He aimed to bolster their faith enough that they would no longer be crippled by their fears. Fear is the opposite of genuine faith. Fear comes from a place of faithlessness. When we have real confidence in God, fear is driven out. When we feel frightened or worried, we must remember who our Father in Heaven is, and that He cares for us and watches over us. Paul tells us, “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Romans 8:15).
A person should immerse himself daily in the love of God, reminding himself that he is beloved. There is nothing "able to separate us from the love of God" (Romans 8:39), the Apostle Paul tells us. Just as a loving father cannot help but love his child, so too God loves you as His own precious child. "See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are" (1 John 3:1). "We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love" (1 John 4:16). To know God is to bask in His love.
This explains why it was necessary for Miriam, Aaron, and Moses to die before Israel could enter the land. In fact, the sages recognized that Moses’ death made it possible for Israel to enter the land. Israel could not enter the land until Moses died because God had sworn on oath that “Not one of these men, this evil generation, shall see the good land which I swore to give your fathers” (Numbers 1:35). That included Moses, Aaron and Miriam. How ironic that the final fulfillment of the covenant promise depended upon the death of Israel’s redeemer.