Hirsch began the parshah
class: "These are the words that Moshe spoke to all of Am Yisrael
on the east bank of the Jordan... an eleven day journey from Choreb."
"That means that instead of the forty years of journeys in the desert, the entire trip from Mount Sinai to Eretz Yisrael could have taken only eleven days!" exclaimed Suri.
"You know why," Morah Hirsch said.
"Yes," Suri answered. "After the sin of the miraglim, HaShem said that He would not bring the Jews into Eretz Yisrael until forty years passed. Still, forty years is a long time for an eleven day journey. That's a very severe punishment."
"You have to understand," Morah Hirsch said, "HaShem doesn't punish just to hurt. When HaShem punishes, He's trying to help the person who sinned and inspire him do teshuvah. That's why the Jews wandered in the desert for so long. There is a Chassidic saying: 'It took HaShem one moment to take the Jews out of Egypt, and forty years to take Egypt out of the Jews.'
"All the time the Jews were in the desert, they were busy working on their emunah and on their middos, preparing themselves to enter Eretz Yisrael - Eretz HaKodesh, our holy land. To live in such a holy place, you have to be holy yourself, and that requires work."
Parshas Devarim is always read on the Shabbos before Tishah BeAv. This Shabbos is also called Shabbos Chazon, because the haftorah that we read begins with the words "Chazon Yeshayahu." Chazon means to have a vision. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev explained that on this Shabbos we can all see a vision of the Beis HaMikdash in our mind's eye. Having this vision will encourage us to behave like the Jews in the desert. We will work ourselves and our environment, to make the world ready for Mashiach when we will all go to Eretz Yisrael.
(Adapted from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. IX, p. 14ff.; Vol. XIX, p. 6ff.)