with commentary by Shira Schechter


While Jews believe that all twenty-four books comprising the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible, are the word of Hashem, there is a distinction between the first five, the books of Moshe, and the others. Known in Hebrew as Chumash (חומש), meaning ‘five’, Sefer BereishitSefer ShemotSefer VayikraSefer Bamidbar and Sefer Devarim are on a higher level of holiness than the rest of the Bible, since Hashem communicated each word of these books directly to Moshe.  In contrast, the nineteen books of the Neviim (Prophets) and Ketuvim (Writings) are based on God’s prophetic communications to His individual messengers, but are written in their own language.  This underscores the idea that Moshe’s prophecy was unparalleled, based on his particularly close relationship with the Almighty, as the Bible states explicitly, “Never again did there arise in Yisrael a prophet like Moshe – whom Hashem singled out, face to face” (Deuteronomy 34:10). As such, the Book of Devarim, or Sefer Devarim, marks the conclusion the Torah portion of the Tanakh, and with it the end of God’s direct word to Moshe. It must therefore be mined carefully for its precious lessons.


Written in the last weeks of Moshe’s life, Sefer Devarim is a summary of his final lessons to the people in the wilderness, before they enter the Land of Israel. Hundreds of commandments are taught  or reviewed, some with minor differences that teach important lessons. The quantity and diversity of the various commandments does not distract from one primary theme that is repeated multiple times throughout Sefer Devarim: The primacy of Eretz Yisrael. In one of the most beautiful and incisive descriptions, Moshe describes the Land of Israel as being unlike any other place on earth:


For the land that you are about to enter and possess is not like the land of Egypt from which you have come. There, the grain you sowed had to be watered by your own labors, like a vegetable garden; but the land you are about to cross into and possess, a land of hills and valleys, soaks up its water from the rains of heaven. It is a land which Hashem your God looks after, on which Hashem your God always keeps His eye, from year’s beginning to year’s end. (Deuteronomy 11:10-12)


The Israel Bible elucidates the uniqueness of the land featured repeatedly in the Book of Devarim, a land where God’s presence is fully manifest, and where our relationship with Him is more profound and more complete.  May our study of Sefer Devarim contribute to our own deeper love for Hashem and the Land of Israel.

Shira Schechter

About Shira Schechter

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Shira graduated from Stern College with a BA in Judaic studies and received masters’ degrees in education and Bible from the Azrieli and the Bernard Revel graduate schools of Yeshiva University. Shira also studied at the Yeshiva University Graduate Program for women in Advanced Talmudic Studies, and was a teaching fellow at the Rabbi Soloveitchik Institute in Boston. Prior to making aliyah in 2013, Shira taught Bible to high school students at the Frisch School in Paramus, NJ. She now lives with her family in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel.


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Comments ( 5 )

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  • Kween Tulloch

    Why does so many faces look like Anglo-Saxons? The Real Jews from the Original Torah described all of its Jews to have Black and or Ruddy skin. None had pale faces.

  • Carlos Marcelo Ossa

    yes of course if it is free i want to have conect with you by facebook would i? thank you
    I read and pray with my own sidur sefaradi, I pray the sabbath specially and I used to,pray for my dead family with the kadish . I live neaxt to synagogue paso 423 and i go there specially in the main principals jews festivities,i would lijke to have more information about the torah ,if it is posible iwould you lend me more informationplease. specially I would like to receive tje jerusalem bible by facebook

  • Carlos Marcelo Ossa

    yes of course if it is free i want to have conect with you by facebook would i? thank you

  • Carlos Marcelo Ossa

    if would like to receive information from the complete israel bible i have to suscribe free or i have to pay if i am jew and i visit the jerusalem post frecuently . could you inform me please if i could get the jerusalem bible by facebook.please thank you very much i expect an answer,

  • Enoch Ofori

    The introduction is concise and makes the distinction with the preceding 4 books of Moses clear: a recap of the Commandments, the instructions and the promises with a focus on the promised land to be entered. An interesting scriptural journey I envisage. Shalom.

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