Devarim: Giving Sound to the Silence ~ Tzvi Abrahams

Parshas דְּבָרִים

Giving Sound to the Silence

דְּבָרִים: words

דָבָר: thing

מִדְבָּר: desert

דְבִיר: Holy of Holies

אַבְּרָא כְּדַבְּרָא: abra k’dabra/I create as I speak

דְבוֹרָה: bee

דְבוֹרָה: name of a prophetess

דֶבֶר: death, pestilence

דְּבָרִים: Words, Things

אֵלֶּה הַדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר מֹשֶׁה אֶל כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּעֵבֶר הַיַּרְדֵּן בַּמִּדְבָּר
These are the words that Moshe spoke to all of Israel in the plains of Jordan in the desert.

Hashem created the world with words. Words create things. The world is full of things, but really there is nothing but Hashem. Our job is to put all the things together and see the bigger picture. 

מִדְבָּר: Desert

The midbar is a place free from distractions, free from the world of things. Midbar is lashon speaking, because only in a place free from distractions can we ever hope to hear Hashem speaking to us. For this very reason, the Midrash tells us to make ourselves into a midbar. There is a little voice inside all of us, giving us advice on what to do or what not to do. This is the softly spoken voice of אָנֹכִי, the voice of the yetzer tov, but it takes a lot of training to hear this voice over the very loud voice of אַנִי, the voice of the ego. The difference in gematria between אָנוֹכִי [מלא] and אַנִי is twenty-six, which is Hashem’s name י-ה-ו-ה, hinting to us of this idea that אָנֹכִי is a much loftier state of being. The pasuk says that Hashem is not in the wind, or the loud noise, or the fire, only in the very fine sound of silence/.קוֹל דְּמָמָה דַקָּה

דְבִיר : Holy of Holies

The Holy of Holies is the place from where Hashem spoke to Moshe. A voice that only Moshe could hear came out from the Holy of Holies.

אַבְּרָא כְּדַבְּרָא: Abra k’Dabra/I Create as I Speak

Man was created with the power of speech. This elevates man above all other creations. Speech has the ability to relate how we are feeling, to express our inner world, to tell the outside world who we really are. This is why the skin of the lips is really the inside turned outwards. Words have the power to raise up or bring down, to create or destroy. Hence the meaning of the words abra k’dabra/I create as I speak.

דְבוֹרָה: Bee

In the Midrash, Hashem compares His children to bees because we are led by tzaddikim and prophets. The רד”ל says that the reason why the bee has the name דְבוֹרָה is because:שֶׁמִתְנַהַגִים ע”פ דָבַר וּמִנְהִיג נְקֵיבָה /they behave according to the word of their leader who is female. So too we are led by the words of the תּוֹרָה, which is also female. The lives of the ones who follow the Torah are sweet, whereas it stings the ones who choose to go against its ways. 

We can learn a lot from bees. They all work in harmony to serve the queen. When they sting they die, and they are willing to die for her. What they produce from their mouths is something sweet. So too, our words have the power to sting or be filled with the sweetness of Hashem’s Torah. All that we do should be to serve the King, to the extent that just like a bee we are willing to give up our lives. 

Sometimes, when one passes by a shul or beis midrash, the sound that emanates from the hum of its divrei Torah, its דִבּוּרִים/words can sometimes be mistaken for the sound of דְבוֹרִים/bees humming busily around the hive. And to the one who busies himself with the worthwhile pursuit of seeking to know Hashem’s Torah, he will eventually taste the sweetness that lies beneath its teachings.

דְבוֹרָה: Name of a Prophetess

The Gemara in Megillah quotes the pasuk in Shoftim that mentions Devorah sitting under a palm tree, symbolizing that just like a palm tree doesn’t branch out but rather grows directly upwards, so too the Jewish People in Devorah’s generation had one heart directed to their Father in Heaven. Appropriately named, Devorah exemplified the comparison of the Jewish People to bees, because they were led in unison by a prophet, and, more specifically, a female prophetess.

The Devorah who appears in Parshas וַיִשְׁלַח and who was buried by the tamar/date palm was Rivkah’s wet nurse. It is appropriate that Rivkah should be nursed by a Devorah, because just like a bee sustains the queen bee so that she can give birth to future generations, so too it was Devorah who sustained Rivkah, the mother of Yaakov/Yisrael and the future generations of Bnei Yisrael.

דֶבֶר: Death, Pestilence

סוֹף דָבָר הַכָּל נִשְׁמַע

The end thing, everything will be heard.

At the end of someone’s life, Hashem sends His ministering angels to hear what people are saying about ploni/so-and-so — is he a tzaddik or a rasha, does he have a good name or a bad name?

Here too סוֹף דָבָר /the end thing is connected to dever/pestilence, because it refers to death. Only when we cross the finishing line is our fate sealed. Everything goes after the seal. As Hillel said, “Do not believe in yourself until the day you die.”

The davar here also refers to divrei Torah, because at the end of one’s life, each and every one of us will be called upon to relay the Torah we have learned. Did we waste our lives pursuing the hevel havalim/vanities of this world, or in the end will the words of our Torah be heard?

In order for the words of our Torah to be heard, we first have to understand what they are saying, because we know that sometimes words have two meanings. The more we busy ourselves with the Torah, the more we give sound to the silence. Then, as the words come alive and speak to us, we find ourselves humming with excitement. Then we perceive “things” more clearly and live in a world where we can see the bigger picture.

Tishah B’Av – The Language of Love

וַיְדַבֵּר ה’ אֵלַי לֵאמֹר
And Hashem spoke to me saying.

Instead of the usual lashon of the Torah, where Hashem speaks to Moshe, here Hashem speaks “to me,” which Rashi denotes as lashon חִיבָּה/a language of love. Only now is Hashem speaking to Moshe in a loving way, whereas during the course of the thirty-eight additional years in the desert due to the sin of the spies, Hashem was more distant because Moshe lacked the aspaklariah/the clear vision of face-to-face communication.

Each and every one of us is a Beis HaMikdash. Each and every one of us has a דְבִיר/a Holy of Holies where Hashem speaks to us in a voice that only we can hear. When we sin, we lose our ability to hear Hashem speaking to us. The דְבִיר no longer functions as it ought to, as a place of דִבּוּר, and instead we block up the lines of communication.

Tishah B’Av is not only the loss of the Beis HaMikdash, but also the loss of our ability to see Hashem clearly in the world and individually in our lives. Instead, we go after our heart and eyes, our own מְרַגְלִים/spies, which cause us to lose that close connection with Hashem.

If we could only turn away from the distractions of the outside world and make ourselves into a מִדְבָּר/desert, then our inner world would come alive, giving sound to the silence, where once again we could hear the language of love, of וַיְדַבֵּר ה’ אֵלַי /Hashem speaking to me.  

1 Devarim 1:1.

2 See Avi Ezer to Shemos 3:11, who comments on the difference between אני ואנכי.

3 Melachim I 19:12.

4 Devarim Rabbah 1:6.

5 Megillah 14a.

6 Koheles 12:13.

7 Brachos 12a.

8 Avos 2:4.

9 Midrash Koheles 12:13.

10 Devarim 2:17.