On Devarim 1:1, Rashi comments that the various places listed are in fact veiled references to episodes in which the Jewish people rebelled. Thus Moshe was offering a kind of concealed rebuke. My questions are:

  1. Why is the list of transgressions out of order? The list of rebuke items is not in chronological or any other order that I can ascertain.
  2. Why are items left out? Once he's rebuking them, why not point out every time they failed?
  3. Why is he rebuking them when they didn't do it? This is not the generation that worshiped the golden calf or sent the spies or complained at the sea. Those people are dead; this is a wholly new generation to whom Moshe seems to be speaking as if they were their parents.
  • Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/44113
    – msh210
    Aug 1, 2014 at 4:36
  • 2 and 3 sort of answer each other - these aren't the exact individuals that "did it," so recounting every single sin that they (didn't) do wouldn't be productive. Presumably, the reason Moshe recounts these specific sins is to accomplish something through the tochecha (in this case I disagree with your translation of "rebuke" for the word), and the order might relate to the specific goal he is attempting to accomplish. May 18, 2016 at 14:00

2 Answers 2


To answer point 1. It seems from the listing that Rashi's ordering is in order of intensity or severity, from least to most severe.

To answer point 2. The 'rebuke' is achieved through a subtle reminder. To list every wrong committed is to fail in the objective. Moshe Rabbeinu didn't want Am Yisrael to feel dispondent, hopeless and depressed. He wanted them to be reminded about the lessons that he was imparting. To list every wrong would defeat the purpose, even if all were subtley mentioned.

To answer point 3. While you're correct in stating that the generation was not directly involved in the sins listed, but since they are in a similar position, have every opportunity to fail as it were in their mission. Moshe is subtley rebuking them to remind them about these points in our history as a reminder not to fall to these temptations again. We are still trying to fix these mistakes today, and I guarantee you I did not worship a golden calf, or listen to the spies. The point is that each generation has its own 'golden calf' and its own 'listening to the spies' that need to be corrected.

  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya and thank you for this answer. Are these interpretations your own or did you learn them from somewhere? (Either's fine; we just like to attribute sources.) You can edit your answer if you'd like to add information. Thanks, and I look forward to seeing you around the site. May 11, 2017 at 3:03

Or HaHayim has a fascinating interpretation of this pasuq (link), in which he draws out hints at 9 middot that Moshe Rabbeinu was conveying to the generation.

IMHO, Or HaHayim's interpretation addresses #2 and #3; but, at face value, doesn't address #1. My own addition to his interpretation is that, perhaps, the 9 middot are in order of importance (e.g. to be an "'Ivri" is most important and to be "Sameahh BeHelqo" is least important among these suggestions).

B"N, I will expand this answer to include a translation/summary of Or HaHayim's interpretation.

  • 2
    Rashi says the allusion is to various sins, and the asker, above, wonder about the order. If Orach Chayim says the allusion is to various character traits and the order makes sense that way, I don't see how that answers the question on Rashi.
    – msh210
    Jul 27, 2014 at 15:33
  • Fair point. I forgot to tie my answer to RaSh"Y. My answer, citing Orahh Hayim, does not really contradict RaSh"Y and, at the same time, dissolves questions #2 and #3 IMHO. Also, I'm assuming the question mark in your comment is commentary on my transliteration scheme. To each his own :)
    – Lee
    Jul 27, 2014 at 15:56
  • The question mark was because you linked to a page that claims to include Or Hachayim but you refer to the Orach Chayim.
    – msh210
    Jul 27, 2014 at 15:58
  • @msh210 If the O"H is providing the rationale/reason behind the tochecha, then it would fully explain the OP's question - Moshe is attempting to convey specific points/pitfalls/failings to them through this diatribe. Not having the O"H in front of me, I can't discuss the order, which might be implemented by severity/order of implementation. May 18, 2016 at 14:02
  • Good thing this was bli neder, because it's been two years and you haven't expanded it. :)
    – Scimonster
    Aug 12, 2016 at 12:35

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