Interactive Learning Module
The ideas in this module were presented by Rabbi Yehuda Tropper in a Misrad HaChinukh teacher training session on how to use AlHaTorah resources.
In the middle of
, Moshe encourages the people, telling them that
is "not in the heavens" or "across the sea", but is readily accessible and attainable by all.
What commandment, though, is Moshe speaking about?
is he suggesting lies within the people's grasp?
This module will explore this question by looking at the broader context of Devarim 30 and seeing how its
might have influenced different readings of our verses.
An in-depth analysis of the issue can be found at
It is Not in the Heavens
. As you use this module, you are invited to compare your own analysis with the analysis found there.
Let's explore the keywords in the opening section of Devarim 30. Open the
to Devarim 30:1-10.
With the aid of the table on the left side of the screen,
highlight all keywords
that appear six or more times in the unit (ignoring articles and the like).
One of the verbs which appears frequently in the unit appears once more in noun form. Find this noun and highlight it as well.
Looking at the the colored verses, use the keywords to
create a sentence
that expresses the main point of the unit.
Many refer to this section as "Parashat HaTeshuvah".
Substantiate this claim
on the basis of the keywords you have seen.
3. Keywords: שוב
Using the garbage can icon, erase all the keywords and then click on the word
in verse 2 so that only words with the root "שוב" will be highlighted.
With regards to each of the appearances of this root, note:
Who is the
of the verb, what is the
of the verb, and
or what is he returning?
is the chapter trying to express by employing these various connotations of the root "שוב"?
4. Opposing Pairs
Let's now look at the end of our chapter. Open the
to Devarim 30:15-20.
In this section, there are four pairs of opposing words (for instance, happy and sad). Locate at least three such
sets of opposites
Highlight the positive words in one color (choose the color option from the dropdown menu) and the negatives in another.
In these verses, there is
one positive commandment
which appears twice. Highlight it in a third color.
Reread the verses, and
define the subject
of the section, paying attention to the content of the verses and the highlighted words.
5. "הַמִּצְוָה הַזֹּאת"
Now that we have explored the larger context of the chapter, let's return to the verses with which we started, those that comprise the middle section of our chapter.
to Devarim 30 and reread
do these verses make about "הַמִּצְוָה הַזֹּאת"?
two possible explanations
of the phrase "הַמִּצְוָה הַזֹּאת" does he suggest?
Ramban presents two understandings of the phrase "הַמִּצְוָה הַזֹּאת". Which does he
Click on the "Show Additional Commentaries" button at the bottom of the verse and
. Scan the first few lines of his commentary. What question does Netziv raise on the first possibility brought by Ramban?
(accessible from the list of commentators at the bottom of the verse) answer Netziv's question? [Read just the first paragraph of his comments.]
Several modern scholars offer a third possible understanding of the phrase, suggesting that it refers to the cardinal precept to
. What in our chapter might buttress this understanding?
7. Concordance: "לְאַהֲבָה"
"'לְאַהֲבָה אֶת ה"
appears three times in our chapter. Let's explore how this compares to the rest of Tanakh.
Scroll down to
. Highlight the words
'לְאַהֲבָה אֶת ה
and choose concordance from the dropdown.
How often does the phrase appear in Tanakh? How are these appearances
throughout the various books?
Press the tab entitled
on top of the list of verses which will provide a visual. In which book of Torah is the phrase
Click on the bar and scan the results. How many of the appearances of the phrase are in our chapter? What does this imply about the
of the phrase to the chapter?
Why might the command to love Hashem be emphasized more in Sefer Devarim than other books?
8. Concordance: "הַמִּצְוָה הַזֹּאת"
Let's close our analysis by exploring one last phrase, the words
themselves. Close the pop-up from Devarim and revert back from "graph" mode to the "concordance".
In the first field at the top of the concordance, input
, choosng the noun form from the dropdown menu. In the second field, input
and choose demonstrative pronoun from the dropdown menu. Clear the third field so that it is empty. Press search.
How many times does the phrase appear in Torah? In which books?
Click on the chapter-verse hyperlinks next to each verse in which the phrase appears in Torah to see the larger
of the verse. Pay special attention to Devarim 11:22 and 19:9.
In these verses, what is the
subject of "הַמִּצְוָה הַזֹּאת"?
Which position discussed above does this support?
Let's return to the
to summarize our findings, looking at the entire chapter together, while highlighting the various phrases we have been exploring.
Click on the word
in verse 1 so that all forms of the root will appear. Highlight the phrase
לְאַהֲבָה 'אֶת ה
in verse 16, and choose "highlight instances". Finally, color the phrase
in verse 11.
Now scroll through the entire chapter. Which
discussed above are best supported by the literary evidence?
To which part of the chapter does Ramban relate "הַמִּצְוָה הַזֹּאת"? With which part do modern scholars associate it?
We have explored various understandings of the phrase
, noting that it might refer to the entire Torah, to the specific mitzvah of repentance, or to the precept to love Hashem.
The last two possibilities might be rooted in the larger context of the chapter. The first section focuses on repentance, with the root
appearing 7 times, while the last section speaks of the mitzvah of Ahavat Hashem, with the phrase
"'לְאַהֲבָה אֶת ה"
appearing twice in the unit and once more earlier in the chapter.
Whichever of the three options chosen, the message of the unit is both
powerful and empowering
Though observance of
might seem like a daunting task, Hashem promises that it is an attainable goal.
The concept of
an incorporeal, incomprehesible Being might seem esoteric and far-fetched, but really it is not.
sometimes seems impossible, our chapter teaches that it is within one's grasp: "כִּי קָרוֹב אֵלֶיךָ הַדָּבָר מְאֹד בְּפִיךָ וּבִלְבָבְךָ לַעֲשֹׂתוֹ".
Every individual has the ability to observe Torah, to love Hashem, and to change and repent. One must simply
to do so.
11. Additional Reading
For further discussion of this topic, see:
It is Not in the Heavens
To explore different understandings of the command to love God, see
For other topics related to Parashat Nitzavim, see:
Parashat Nitzavim – Topic List
Return to the beginning of this module
Interactive Learning Modules