As we slowly head into Shabbos and a possible Tisha B’Av, it is worth examining the parallel between this mournful day and the name of this week’s parasha. The parasha is called Devarim, literally translated as “words.” The Gemara (Bava Basra 16b) states that a mourner does not have a mouth. Literally, this means that a mourner is restricted from engaging in excessive talk for the first three days of the mourning period. However, we will see that there is a deeper meaning to this statement.
The last letters of every Chumash are ם,ם,י,ו,ל, whose sum total equals the word ענו, the humble one. The fact that the letters are at the end of the Chumash hints to the idea that one should be humble, i.e. at the bottom.
The Medrash (Shemos Rabbah 30:3) states that wherever the Torah uses the word ואלה, “and these,” the Torah is adding on to what was previously said. However, when the Torah uses the word אלה, without the letter ו, the Torah is indicating that only these (items or words) are to be reckoned with and not the previously mentioned items or words. The commentators wonder, then, how this Medrash can be reconciled with the beginning of our parasha which states אלה הדברים, these are the words? What words are being rendered obsolete or irrelevant that the Torah found it necessary to state that “these” are the words?
To answer this question we can apply the previously mentioned gematria. The Torah begins the last Chumash, Devarim, with the words אלה הדבריםת these are the words, to demonstrate that one should never rely on his previous achievements. The Sar Shalom from Belz would instruct his chassidim to cast the candle used for searching chametz into the fire, proclaiming, “even the feel-good of having fulfilled the mitzvah of searching for and burning the chametz must be consumed.” Thus, the Torah in our parasha is teaching us a lesson in humility, that one should render irrelevant and obsolete his previous words and deeds so that he can continue to strive in his service of HaShem.
Returning to the mourner who “doesn’t have a mouth,” we can suggest that the Gemara means that now that one has lost a loved one, the past is seemingly irrelevant and obsolete, never to return. While this may be true regarding the loss of a human life, we are taught that the mourning over the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash is not irrelevant and removed from our consciousness. Rather, the mourning that we experience is akin one whose relative has departed on a long and indefinite journey, where one waits anxiously for the relative’s return.
HaShem should comfort us with the words of the prophet of yore (Yeshaya 51:3) כִּי נִחַם יְ-ה-וָ-ה צִיּוֹן נִחַם כָּל חָרְבֹתֶיהָ וַיָּשֶׂם מִדְבָּרָהּ כְּעֵדֶן וְעַרְבָתָהּ כְּגַן יְ-ה-וָ-ה שָׂשׂוֹן וְשִׂמְחָה יִמָּצֵא בָהּ תּוֹדָה וְקוֹל זִמְרָה, for HaShem shall console Zion, He shall console all its ruins, and He shall make its desert like a paradise and its wasteland like the garden of HaShem; joy and happiness shall be found therein, thanksgiving and a voice of song, and may we witness the consolation of Yerushalayim and the return of the entire Jewish People to our Promised Land, with the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily, in our days.
Have an inspirational, comforting, humble, and redemption filled Shabbos!