Moshe Rabeinu began the last shiur he would ever give to Bnei Yisroel on Rosh Chodesh Shevat. This last speech continues until his death on the seventh of Adar. These were the most important words that Moshe Rabeinu would say – the words that Bnei Yisroel were to take with them into their new lives in Eretz Yisroel (Israel, abv E”Y). They needed to be words of inspiration that would sustain Bnei Yisroel through the long years of Kibush and Chiluk (conquest and division) and for all time.
Rav Hirsch explains that this sefer, Moshe’s last message to us, was Bnei Yisroel’s introduction to life in E”Y. Until now, they had seen daily miracles: mon (manna) fell from heaven to feed them, heavenly clouds surrounded them to protect and clothe them, etc. Now, they are about to enter E”Y. They will have to deal with the mundane, planting food in order to eat, and then cooking it and washing dishes. They will have to make their own clothes and learn to protect themselves physically. The Hand of Hashem will be less clear. There will also be more temptation in the form of the nations to be conquered.
But how did reviewing the Torah help Bnei Yisroel prepare for their future in E”Y?
The answer lies in the following story:
I was once driving home from work when my car broke down. I was on the highway, so I carefully made my way onto the service road until I could go no further. Unbeknownst to me, a mechanic had been driving behind me on the highway. He saw me break down and followed me off to help. He and his friend stayed behind me on the service road for a while, protecting me from oncoming cars, putting their own car and lives at risk.
He was with me the entire time, but I didn't know it.
If only I had looked in my rear-view mirror and seen his car there. I would have felt much more comfortable being in such a vulnerable position knowing that he was there to protect me.
Just like the mechanic in my story, Hashem is always behind us. Even when we feel alone, He is always watching us, taking care of us. We just have to look in our rear-view mirrors - at past miracles and instances of Hashgacha - to see that He has been with us all our lives and will not desert us now.
That is what Moshe was trying to teach Bnei Yisroel before sending them into E”Y. He was reminding them to look into the past to see the love and devotion that Hashem showered on them in the Midbar (desert). He told them, and all future generations, to see the nissim (miracles) that Hashem had wrought in the desert and remember that He is capable of doing the same now. Though Yad Hashem (Hand of Hashem) is more hidden, It is still there, and always will be.
Because of this message, Shevat is a time to look back on our own past and remember what Hashem has done for us. We have to hold onto every Hashgacha Pratis story that happened to us, every time a situation was bleak, but then suddenly Hashem’s plan was clear. We have to take these small moments of clarity, the nissim in our personal midbar, and carry them with us into our regular lives.