Celebrating the Spiritual Levels of Torah

Torah Portion for the week of July 27 - August 2: Devarim

(Deuteronomy 1:1 - 3:22)

Language distinguishes humankind from all other creatures on this planet. It's not just a matter of communication, for there are clearly other animals that communicate with rather high degrees of sophistication. But for us, language is more than a mode of communication -- it is a vehicle for creation.

We not only express meaning with our words, we use them to shape that meaning. As we use words to form meaning, we constrict or expand the nature of the world we experience.

So here comes Devarim (Words), the name of this parashah and the name of the fifth and final book of the Torah that it begins.

These are the words that Moses spoke to all Israel beyond the Jordan -- in the wilderness, on the plain. . . . In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses spoke to the Israelites just as the Eternal had commanded him to speak to them. (Deut. 1:1, 3)

Deuteronomy contains the final discourses with which Moses shapes the essence of Torah (Teaching) and refines the nature of our biblical faith. The book is called "Deuteronomy" in English, from the earliest Greek translation of an older name for the same book: Mishnat Torah -- the repetition of the Teaching.

You might already know that the Hebrew word davar (singular of devarim) means "word" as well as "thing." The Hebrew language stunningly reflects the power of language to create worlds. Remember, for example, that Creation itself (see Genesis 1) was imagined to follow from the Word of God: God spoke and the world was.

Perhaps the most powerful words we use are not the ones we share with others, but the self-talk with which we define ourselves and interpret our daily experience. These are the words we carry in our mind that help shape our current reality. Our world is impacted either positively or negatively by the energy of our interpretations and self-definitions.

At every moment, we can choose words of blessing or words of curse; words focusing on what is wrong and hopeless, or words pointing to what is kind and hopeful. Consciously choosing the nature of our self-talk is one of the essential ways to impact our own experience and our world.

It is time now to bring fuller awareness to the words we speak internally and externally, and to choose them well.

Focus Phrases

I am creative with the words I speak.
I choose words supporting greater compassion now.
I am a compassionate and creative being.

Writing Prompts

Right now, I am telling myself . . .
If my self-talk reflected the life I want, I would tell myself that . . .
If my words could create the world I want, I would write that . . .

“Torah is the book with no end, supporting our understanding of what it means to be a vehicle for the Spirit of Creation.”

Photo: Mark Reden