For an explanation of the methodology of this series, see the introduction.

"And G‑d said to Moses: Behold, you are [about to] lay with your forefathers, and this nation will rise up and stray after the deities of the nations of the land, into which they are coming. And they will forsake Me and violate My covenant which I made with them." (Deut. 31:16)

Peshat (basic meaning):

Rashi: "the nations of the land"
means the peoples of the land

Remez (hinted meaning):

...the people will find the one hundred blessings repugnant...

Baal HaTurim: "But this people will rise up"
It is a scribal tradition that the Kof of 'v’kom' = 100 of this phrase is written with 3 tagin/crowns. This is to indicate that the people will find the one hundred blessings repugnant as well as King Solomon's edifice whose Temple measured one hundred cubits.

"This people will stray after."
The gematria of this phrase (419) is equal to that of "This is a reference to Manasseh."

Derash (interpretive meaning):

Targum Yonatan: "And G‑d said to Moses, Behold, you will lie down in the dust with your fathers [and your soul shall be treasured in the treasury of eternal life with your fathers] but this [wicked] people will rise up and go astray after the idols of the nations among whom they come, and will forsake Me and will profane the statutes I have confirmed with them.

Ramban: I differ with Rashi, for it should mean "the gods that are foreign to this Land" for the Glorious Name is called the G‑d of the Land, similar to what is stated, "Because they know not the manner of the G‑d of the Land"

Ohr HaChayim: How can Moses describe this deviation as 'v’kom/rising' instead of a descent or degradation? The coarsening of the Jewish people was due to their material blessing, which G‑d had showered upon the nation deserving the name Jeshurun, but in (32:15) we will read that Israel waxed fat and were "kicking".

Also, Moses means that not only the generation Moses describes in our verse will worship idols but also the following generation. This is what G‑d predicted when he said to Moses that after he would die, this people will rise and stray against alien gods. See Judges:"And the children of Israel did that which was evil in the sight of G‑d, and woshipped the Baal idols." (2:11)

Tzeror Hamor: The Zohar shows how G‑d told Moses that although he would be laying with his forefathers, he would still be considered as if alive as long as Joshua would be his capable successor.

It would be upsetting to see Jews foolish enough to abandon the one and only true G‑d.

"alien deities" are referred to as nechar, which means "strange"; that is because these gods worshipped by pagans were also strangers to them (i.e. to those pagans) as they (i.e. their "gods") failed to respond to their calls for help. It would be upsetting to see Jews foolish enough to abandon the one and only true G‑d.

"in whose midst the Jewish people finds itself" refers to Canaan, not all of whom were killed immediately. It would not take long until the Israelites curiosity paired with the desire to imitate the Canaan culture would lead them to "abandon Me and breach My covenant."

Sod (esoteric, mystical meaning):

Zohar Vayikra 22:
Rabbi Hiya opened with the verse: "And G‑d said to Moses, Behold, you shall sleep with your fathers..." (Deut. 31:16) Come and see: As long as Moses was alive in the world, he admonished Israel not to be found sinful before G‑d. Since Moses was among them, there is no generation like that one until the generation when King Mashiach will come, who beholds the glory of G‑d like they did, because they attained what no other generation did.

We have learned that a maid saw on the sea what the eye of the prophet Ezekiel could not. If she reached thus far, all the more so the wives of Israel, and their children even more, and the men even more. The Sanhedrin all the more, and the chiefs even more, and all the more so the supernal, faithful prophet Moses, who is above everyone. Now, if these merchants in the desert uttered such wisdom, all the more so the sages of the generations and even more those who stay with Rabbi Shimon and study from him every day. All the more so to Rabbi Shimon, who is above everyone.

After Moses died, it is written, "And this people will rise up, and go astray..." Woe to the world when Rabbi Shimon will depart from it, when the springs of wisdom will be sealed from the world, when man will seek words of wisdom, but there will be none to utter it. The whole world will err in the Torah and there shall be none to awaken it with wisdom. Of that time, it says, "And if the whole congregation of Israel sin through ignorance," (Lev. 4:13) if they sin through ignorance of the Torah, it is because they will not know its ways. Why? Because "the thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly" for there will be no one to reveal the depth of the Torah and its ways. Woe to the generation then in the world!
G‑d will reveal deep mysteries of the Torah at the time of Mashiach...
Rabbi Yehuda said, G‑d will reveal deep mysteries of the Torah at the time of Mashiach, "for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of G‑d, as the waters cover the sea," (Isaiah 11:9) "And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know G‑d: for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them." (Jeremiah 31:33) Amen. May it be so.

BeRahamim LeHayyim:
More on our theme of good news and bad news.
First the bad: we're gonna fall some more before we rise. Moses on his last day is told that we are going to stray towards other gods. Ouch! Moses is outta' here, and the Children of Israel are going to be up to no good. What's there to do?

Now the good: the bad will be temporary, the good when Mashiach comes will be permanent and amazing! We won't have to give our neighbor lectures in ethics, 'cause all will know G‑d in their hearts of hearts!

That's the Messianic Era for you! Guess what: we're getting very close to it now big time.

Think about the information era. Think about our progress in science. Think about YOU, and the miracle it is that YOU are reading this right now. That you are interested in Jewish spirituality, Torah, and ways of Mystic Truth.

It wasn't always that way. We did other things, had other passions. Yet we still consign a certain portion of our day to these writings

The Mashiach is almost here, and will come today, if we would but listen to his voice. It is all up to us, as the Lubavitcher Rebbe stressed. We can make a difference. We can make it happen.

Moses was the first redeemer. He too will be the last redeemer. There is a soul spark of Moses in all of us. Time to find it. Time to nourish it. Time to access it.
Rosh Hashanah is in but one week!

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