The first few words of Sefer Devarim are understood to be Moshe Rabbeinu hinting at different mistakes the Jewish people made in the desert, and he is giving them disguised rebuke.

Rashi to Devarim 1:1, quoting Sifri:

אלה הדברים: לפי שהן דברי תוכחות ומנה כאן כל המקומות שהכעיסו לפני המקום בהן, לפיכך סתם את הדברים והזכירם ברמז מפני כבודן של ישראל

However, throughout the rest of Devarim, Moshe gives open rebuke to the Jewish people, recounting the spies and other mistakes explicitly!

What was the point of the hidden rebuke if he did so explicitly later?


The Alshich explains that Moshe was "testing the waters" to see how the Jews would react to his rebuke. After he had established that they were accepting his hinted reproach humbly and with love, he continued to rebuke them in a more open way.


The Darash Moshe answers your question. He says the generation that did these sins had already died out. The people he was talking to were their children. He was warning them that they too had the capability to perpetrate these sins and hadn't worked on themselves to rid themselves of the disgusting traits that lead to those sins. This type of rebuke is not fit to say outright, being that they hadn't sinned yet.

  • 1
    So why did he later say it outright?
    – Michoel
    Aug 1 '14 at 6:46
  • Later he was simply repeating the rebuke he had said to the previous generation, also a corrective teaching method but not as direct as these cases of which their ability to fall into sinning was greater.
    – user6591
    Aug 1 '14 at 14:34

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