(יא) כִּ֚י הַמִּצְוָ֣ה הַזֹּ֔את אֲשֶׁ֛ר אָנֹכִ֥י מְצַוְּךָ֖ הַיּ֑וֹם לֹֽא־נִפְלֵ֥את הִוא֙ מִמְּךָ֔ וְלֹ֥א רְחֹקָ֖ה הִֽוא׃
(יב) לֹ֥א בַשָּׁמַ֖יִם הִ֑וא לֵאמֹ֗ר מִ֣י יַעֲלֶה־לָּ֤נוּ הַשָּׁמַ֙יְמָה֙ וְיִקָּחֶ֣הָ לָּ֔נוּ וְיַשְׁמִעֵ֥נוּ אֹתָ֖הּ וְנַעֲשֶֽׂנָּה׃
(יג) וְלֹֽא־מֵעֵ֥בֶר לַיָּ֖ם הִ֑וא לֵאמֹ֗ר מִ֣י יַעֲבָר־לָ֜נוּ אֶל־עֵ֤בֶר הַיָּם֙ וְיִקָּחֶ֣הָ לָּ֔נוּ וְיַשְׁמִעֵ֥נוּ אֹתָ֖הּ וְנַעֲשֶֽׂנָּה׃ (יד) כִּֽי־קָר֥וֹב אֵלֶ֛יךָ הַדָּבָ֖ר מְאֹ֑ד בְּפִ֥יךָ וּבִֽלְבָבְךָ֖ לַעֲשֹׂתֽוֹ׃ (ס)
(טו) רְאֵ֨ה נָתַ֤תִּי לְפָנֶ֙יךָ֙ הַיּ֔וֹם אֶת־הַֽחַיִּ֖ים וְאֶת־הַטּ֑וֹב וְאֶת־הַמָּ֖וֶת וְאֶת־הָרָֽע׃
(טז) אֲשֶׁ֨ר אָנֹכִ֣י מְצַוְּךָ֮ הַיּוֹם֒
לְאַהֲבָ֞ה אֶת־יְהוָ֤ה אֱלֹהֶ֙יךָ֙
וְחָיִ֣יתָ וְרָבִ֔יתָ וּבֵֽרַכְךָ֙ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ בָּאָ֕רֶץ אֲשֶׁר־אַתָּ֥ה בָא־שָׁ֖מָּה לְרִשְׁתָּֽהּ׃
(11) Surely, this mitzvah* which I enjoin upon you this day is not too baffling for you, nor is it beyond reach.
(12) It is not in the heavens, that you should say, “Who among us can go up to the heavens and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?”
(13) Neither is it across the sea, that you should say, “Who among us can go across to the other side of the sea and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?”
(14) No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it.
(15) See, I set before you today
life and prosperity,
death and adversity.
(16) For I command you this day,
to love the LORD your God,
to walk in His ways,
and to keep
and His rules,
that you may thrive and increase,
and that the LORD your God may bless you in the land that you are about to enter and possess.
Rabbi Avi Weinstein, "No Deposit, No Return."
In [Deuteronomy 8:1] the people of Israel are exhorted to do the commandment as a condition for entering the land. While in [Deuteronomy 30:11-14], Israel is exhorted to keep the commandment as an antidote to exile. If we return to God, then God returns to us, and therefore we will return together to the land that was promised.
Nachmanides [aka Ramban, 13th c. Spain] says that in Deuteronomy 8, the commandment is referring to the entire Torah and that the singular is used to emphasize that it represents all of God’s word. In Deuteronomy 30 however, he said it is referring to only one commandment, to return to God, for this is the one thing that is never beyond reach, but "rather near to you is the word, exceedingly, in your mouth and in your heart…"
This is what change is all about–Nahmanides is empowering us to remember that we can always resolve to be different irrespective of where we live, what we have or who we have become. It is always close; it is always within reach because it is within all of us.
תנן התם חתכו חוליות ונתן חול בין חוליא לחוליא
ר"א מטהר וחכמים מטמאין וזה הוא תנור של עכנאי
מאי עכנאי אמר רב יהודה אמר שמואל שהקיפו דברים כעכנא זו וטמאוהו תנא באותו
השיב רבי אליעזר כל תשובות שבעולם ולא קיבלו הימנו
אמר להם אם הלכה כמותי חרוב זה יוכיח נעקר חרוב ממקומו מאה אמה ואמרי לה ארבע מאות אמה אמרו לו אין מביאין ראיה מן החרוב
חזר ואמר להם אם הלכה כמותי אמת המים יוכיחו חזרו אמת המים לאחוריהם אמרו לו אין מביאין ראיה מאמת המים
חזר ואמר להם אם הלכה כמותי כותלי בית המדרש יוכיחו הטו כותלי בית המדרש ליפול גער בהם רבי יהושע אמר להם אם תלמידי חכמים מנצחים זה את זה בהלכה אתם מה טיבכם לא נפלו מפני כבודו של רבי יהושע ולא זקפו מפני כבודו של ר"א ועדיין מטין ועומדין
חזר ואמר להם אם הלכה כמותי מן השמים יוכיחו יצאתה בת קול ואמרה מה לכם אצל ר"א שהלכה כמותו בכ"מ עמד רבי יהושע על רגליו ואמר (דברים ל, יב) לא בשמים היא
מאי לא בשמים היא? אמר רבי ירמיה שכבר נתנה תורה מהר סיני אין אנו משגיחין בבת קול שכבר כתבת בהר סיני בתורה (שמות כג, ב) אחרי רבים להטות
אשכחיה רבי נתן לאליהו א"ל מאי עביד קוב"ה בההיא שעתא א"ל קא חייך ואמר נצחוני בני נצחוני בני
§ We learned in a mishna there (Kelim 5:10): If one cut an earthenware oven widthwise into segments, and placed sand between each and every segment, Rabbi Eliezer deems it ritually pure. And the Rabbis deem it ritually impure. And this is known as the oven of akhnai.
The Gemara asks: What is the relevance of akhnai, a snake, in this context? Rav Yehuda said that Shmuel said: It is characterized in that manner due to the fact that the Rabbis surrounded it with their statements like this snake, which often forms a coil when at rest, and deemed it impure.
The Sages taught: On that day, when they discussed this matter,
(1) Rabbi Eliezer answered all possible answers in the world to support his opinion, but the Rabbis did not accept his explanations from him. After failing to convince the Rabbis logically,
(2) Rabbi Eliezer said to them:
If the halakha is in accordance with my opinion, this carob tree will prove it.
The carob tree was uprooted from its place one hundred cubits, and some say four hundred cubits.
The Rabbis said to him:
One does not cite halakhic proof from the carob tree.
(3) Rabbi Eliezer then said to them: If the halakha is in accordance with my opinion, the stream will prove it. The water in the stream turned backward and began flowing in the opposite direction.
They said to him: One does not cite halakhic proof from a stream.
(4) Rabbi Eliezer then said to them: If the halakha is in accordance with my opinion, the walls of the study hall will prove it. The walls of the study hall leaned inward and began to fall.
Rabbi Yehoshua scolded the walls and said to them: If Torah scholars are contending with each other in matters of halakha, what is the nature of your involvement in this dispute? The Gemara relates: The walls did not fall because of the deference due Rabbi Yehoshua, but they did not straighten because of the deference due Rabbi Eliezer, and they still remain leaning.
(5) Rabbi Eliezer then said to them: If the halakha is in accordance with my opinion, Heaven will prove it. A Divine Voice emerged from Heaven and said: Why are you differing with Rabbi Eliezer, as the halakha is in accordance with his opinion in every place that he expresses an opinion?
Rabbi Yehoshua stood on his feet and said: It is written: “It is not in heaven” (Deuteronomy 30:12).
The Gemara asks: What is the relevance of the phrase “It is not in heaven” in this context? Rabbi Yirmeya says: Since the Torah was already given at Mount Sinai, we do not regard a Divine Voice, as You already wrote at Mount Sinai, in the Torah: “After a majority to incline” (Exodus 23:2). Since the majority of Rabbis disagreed with Rabbi Eliezer’s opinion, the halakha is not ruled in accordance with his opinion.
Rabbi Natan encountered Elijah the prophet and said to him: What did the Holy One, Blessed be He, do at that time, when Rabbi Yehoshua issued his declaration? Elijah said to him: The Holy One, Blessed be He, smiled and said: My children have triumphed over Me; My children have triumphed over Me.
Rabbi Bradley Artson, "On this Day God Calls to You"
Some look to religion to transmit a sense of the majesty of the past. Traditions, because they come to us from a purer time, embody fragile vessels carrying remnants of a lost insight.
Such a view of Judaism correctly perceives the treasures of our ancestors’ seeking and recording their relationship with God. But it errs in transforming the record of that search into a type of fossil, a brittle relic that can only be passed from hand to hand, without any direct contribution from the viewer.
Such an idolization of the past removes God from the theater of our own lives, and threatens to trivialize the worth of our own continuing journeys, to ignore the harvest of our own insight and response. The Torah itself rejects this excessive veneration of the past.
In clear terms, Moses tells the Jewish People, "You stand this day, all of you, before the Lord your God . . . to enter into the covenant of the Lord your God, which the Lord your God is concluding with you this day . . . that He may establish you this day as His people and be your God."
Three times, Moses stresses the phrase, "this day," emphasizing the contemporaneity of God’s outreach to the Jewish People. Rashi notices this repetition, and comments that the chorus of "this day" indicates that, "just as this day enlightens, so will God enlighten [the Jewish People] in the future."