Compliments of First Fruits of Zion
reprinted by permission of FFOZ
Devarim – דברים : “Words”
Torah : Deuteronomy 1:1–3:22
Haftarah : Isaiah 1:1–27
Gospels : Acts 1–2
Expounding the Torah
Thought for the Week:
One should always endeavor to communicate God’s word to a person in a manner that will be understood. We should not require others to learn our language before they can learn about the Torah or the Gospel.
We must bring the good news to them in their language.
“Across the Jordan in the land of Moab, Moses undertook to expound this Torah.” (Deuteronomy 1:5) What did that say? Is it possible that Moses had never expounded the Torah to Israel before this time? What
had he been doing for the last 40 years? Certainly he had been expounding Torah for all these years, so why does Deuteronomy bother telling us this now? The Tanchuma, an ancient collection of rabbinic
commentary, explains that Moses ‘expounded’ the Torah by speaking the words of Deuteronomy in all the seventy tongues of mankind.
In rabbinic literature, the seventy tongues represent the seventy mother-languages spoken by all mankind. In Hebrew idiom, the word “tongue” is idiomatic for a language. We are under no obligation to take
the Tanchuma’s interpretation literally. But it is interesting to note the concept of the Torah presented in every language.
Rabbinic legend reports a similar legend about the giving of the Torah. According to the legend, God spoke the ten commandments from atop Mount Sinai on the Day of Pentecost in all seventy tongues of
mankind. The speaking of the Torah in every language is emblematic for presenting the Torah to all mankind.
In the plain sense, Deuteronomy 1:5 simply means that Moses taught the Torah to the people of Israel while they were encamped across the Jordan. Nonetheless, we learn from the traditional rabbinic
explanation of the passage that one who undertakes to teach the Torah to others is as one imbued with the Holy Spirit as on the day of Pentecost. Just as Moses is said to have expounded the Torah to Israel in
every language, likewise, the disciples proclaimed the good news of Yeshua on Pentecost in every language. And that’s not just rabbinic tradition. Jews from all different parts of the world heard them speaking
in their own tongues.
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. After
all the Torah is very much a part of the Gospel, and the message of the Gospel is quite meaningless without the Torah. Therefore, we are all called to emulate Yeshua, our teacher, who dedicated His life to
proclaiming the Gospel and teaching the ways of Torah.
When properly presented, the Torah should be an avenue to Messiah. It should be a natural fit with the Gospel of salvation.
Shavuah Tov! Have a Good Week!
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