Sign In Forgot Password

Parashat Shoftim; Deuteronomy; Chapter 16 Verse 18 – Chapter 21 Verse 9

General Overview: This week the Torah addresses fundamental issues pertaining to the leadership of the Jewish people. It begins with a discussion regarding judges, and later gives rules pertaining to kings, prophets and kohanim (priests). Many commandments are introduced in this week’s reading, including: appointing judges, the obligation to follow rabbinic law and the words of the prophets, the obligations of a king, the punishment for perjury, the laws of war, and the procedure for dealing with unsolved murders.

1st & 2nd Sections: Moshe details the most important characteristics of a Judge: the ability to remain objective and the strength to refuse bribery. The singular focus of the Shofet (Judge) must be to carry out the will of G-d as detailed in the Halacha. Nothing must deter him in carrying out his mission of justice.

Idolatrous practices must be eradicated and punished. Idol worship represents the greatest perversion of justice by replacing divine justice with human failings and desires.

The Sanhedrin (The Great Assembly) is our direct link with Divine intent, and as stated in Verse 17:11, we view the rulings and interpretations of the Supreme Court as G-dly directives.

Our Monarch must be selected for his unyielding commitment to G-d, Torah, and the people. This is why he must write his own Sefer Torah and carry it with him at all times. He must be first and foremost a Shofet, a Judge.

3rd & 4th Sections: Moshe again addressed the place of the tribe of Levi, reemphasizing the care and attention due to them by the rest of the nation. They are our teachers. Without their instruction we will neither understand or be able to properly apply justice.

5th Section: For justice to exist, it must be accepted as a Divine ruling. Only G-d’s justice can be trusted to take into account all variables and possibilities. Moshe instructed his nation regarding the true Navi – prophet and the false prophet. No other forms of divination can be used to ascertain G-d’s justice, and all false prophets and methods of divination must be destroyed. The value of human life is determined by our system of justice, and Moshe reviewed the laws of the unintentional killing in contrast with the intentional murder.

6th & 7th Sections: The end of the Torah Portion discusses both proper and false witnesses, as well as the Torah’s approach to warfare. It may be that the judicial quality of a nation can be ultimately assessed by its behavior during war, more so than during times of peace.

The Parasha concludes with the unique mitzvah of the Eglah Arufa (the decapitated calf) and the process through which the community takes responsibility for the unsolved murders. This ceremony, which reflects the priceless value of life, might be the most eloquent expression of G-d’s judicial system.

Parashat Re'eh; Deuteronomy; Chapter 11 Verse 26 – Chapter 16 Verse 17

Parashat Re’eh; Deuteronomy; Chapter 11 Verse 26 – Chapter 16 Verse 17

 

General Overview: In this week's reading, Re'eh, Moshe continues addressing the Jewish people just before he passes away; just before the Jewish people cross the Jordan River and enter the land of Israel. Moshe commands the Jewish people to proclaim certain blessings and curses on Mount Grizzim and Mount Eval after they enter the land of Israel. He directs them to destroy all vestiges of idolatry from the Promised Land. They must then designate a city where the Divine presence will dwell in the Holy Temple, and they are forbidden from offering sacrifices elsewhere. Other topics discussed in this portion are: tithes, false prophets, the wayward city, tattoos, kashrut, the Sabbatical Year, charity, and the festivals.

1st & 2nd Sections: Moshe instructs the Chosen People to eradicate any remnant of idolatry and strengthen all aspects of service to G-d. All offerings must be brought to the “Chosen” place, the Temple, so that worship is an act of humility and selflessness, rather than a self-indulging “need”. An even greater danger to our uniqueness is the innate desire to compromise and assimilate Torah values with other forms of worship.

3rd & 4th Sections: Moshe forewarned the Jews against incorporating any pagan practices, and against the false prophet, idolatrous missionaries, and the Ir Hanidachat – the Apostate City. These must be destroyed along with their material belongings. When using the world in accordance with the wishes of the Creator, we declare the existence of a Creator who has a divine purpose for creating the material world. When we misuse the physical in the service of “gods who are not G-d”, we negate the Creator’s purpose for creating the universe. Therefore, they and all their belongings must be destroyed.

5th, 6th & 7th Sections: The remainder of the Parasha, details those Mitzvot that set us apart from all other nations: Kashrus; Ma’asrot – Tithes; the Shemitah – sabbatical year; the laws regarding lending money; the Eved Ivri – a Jew who is a slave; the consecration of the first born animal, and a review of the main Yomim Tovim – holidays: Pesach, Shavout, and Succot.

Rabbi S.R. Hirsch points out that Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are not reviewed in the book of Deuteronomy because there were no changes in the practices of those holidays when living in the desert or living in the land of Israel.

Haftara: Isaiah; Chapter 54 Verse 11 – Chapter 55 Verse 5

Haftara Summary: This week's haftara is the third of a series of seven "haftarot of Consolation." These seven haftarot commence on the Shabbat following Tisha b'Av and continue until Rosh Hashanah.

G‑d addresses the "afflicted and storm-tossed" Jerusalem "who has not been comforted," assuring her that she, and her people, will be restored to full glory. The foundation, walls and ground of Jerusalem will be laid with precious stones. Her children will be "disciples of the Lord," and will enjoy abundant peace. Any weapon engineered against her will fail.

The prophet then invites the thirsty to acquire "water," namely those who are thirsty for spirituality should study the quenching words of Torah. He promises the nation an everlasting covenant similar to that made with King David. This is also an allusion to the Messiah, David's descendant, who will be revered by all of the nations of the world.

Parashat Ekev; Deuteronomy; Chapter 7 Verse 12 – Chapter 11 Verse 25

Parashat Ekev; Deuteronomy; Chapter 7 Verse 12 – Chapter 11 Verse 25

General Overview: Moshe continues his pep talk to the Jewish people, cautioning them not to fear the Canaanite armies for G‑d will wage battle for them. He also notifies them that their entry into the Land is not due to their own virtues – Moshe reminds them of their many transgressions to emphasize this point – but rather, it is in the merit of the nation's Forefathers. The commandments of prayer and Grace After Meals are mentioned. The second part of the Shema is also found in this portion.

1st Section: Moshe details the general rewards for following the Torah, and encourages the nation to have complete confidence in Hashem’s protection. Moshe forewarns them of the dangers in being overly confident and commands them in the Mitzvah of Birkat Hamazon, the prayer after meals (8:10).

2nd Section: Moshe warns them regarding the pitfalls of prosperity and idolatry, and exhorts them to remain humble in the face of their guaranteed victories. G-d is the one who deserves the credit!

3rd Section: In order to illustrate his point, Moshe reviews the incident of the Golden Calf. He explains why G-d, being a G-d of Justice, will grant the Jewish people a victory over the inhabitants of Canaan. Not because the Jews are deserving, but because the Seven Nations deserve to be punished for their own evil actions. The actions of the Jewish people during the 40 years, such as the Golden Calf, should have resulted in the Jews’ destruction. It was three factors which kept them alive and well so that they could inherit the land.

Hashem’s promise to Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaacov.

The Chillul Hashem– desecration of G-d’s name–that would have occurred among the other nations who would question G-d’s ability to protect His nation.

Moshe’s begging for Hashem’s forgiveness.

4th Section: Moshe finishes the story of the Golden Calf by retelling the giving of the Second Tablets.

5th Section: Moshe poses the famous rhetorical question of, “What does G-d want… follow His ways…” and describes other instances of Hashem’s demanding justice.

6th Section: Moshe describes the nature of Eretz Yisroel as demanding and responsive to our following the Torah. The second paragraph of Shema is recorded.

7th Section: Moshe promises the nation total victory if they listen to the commandments and follow the ways of the Hashem.

Haftara: Isaiah; Chapter 49 Verse 14 – Chapter 51 Verse 3

Haftara Summary: This week's haftara is the second of a series of seven "haftarot of Consolation." These seven haftarot commence on the Shabbat following Tisha b'Av and continue until Rosh Hashanah.

The exiled Jewish people express their concern that G‑d has abandoned them. G‑d reassures them that it is not so, comparing His love and mercy for His people to that of a mother for her children, and even greater than that, too.

The prophet Isaiah then touchingly describes the ingathering of the exiles which will occur with the Messiah's arrival and returning to the initial subject matter of this haftara, that of the Jewish people's complaint of being abandoned by G‑d, he reminds them of their rebellious behavior that brought about the exile and suffering. He concludes with encouraging words, reminding us of what had happened to our ancestors, Abraham and Sarah. Just as they were blessed with a child when they had all but given up hope, so too, G‑d will send us the Messiah.

Parashat Vaetchanan; Deuteronomy; Chapter 3 Verse 2 – Chapter 7 Verse 11

Parashat Vaetchanan; Deuteronomy; Chapter 3 Verse 2 – Chapter 7 Verse 11

General Overview: The book of Deuteronomy, Devarim is also called “Mishneh Torah – The Review of the Torah” because it repeats over 100 commandments already mandated in the previous 4 Books. Rabbi S.R. Hirsch explains that of the 100 commandments commanded in this book, more than 70 are new. The repeated commandments focus on areas that will be of greater immediate concern as they encounter the 7 Nations. For example, the prohibition against idol worship. Although already taught, it needed to be reiterated as the Jews would confront the inhabitants of Canaan, who were idolatrous. Those commandments whose application was the same, whether in the desert or in the Land, are not reviewed. In Parshat Vaetchanan Moshe continues his final instructions to the Jewish people.

1st & 2nd Sections: Moshe beseeched Hashem to enter the Land. However, he seemingly blamed the nation when his request was turned down. Moshe explained the foundation of our divine mission, which will be recognized by the other nations. Moshe stressed allegiance to Hashem and the consequences to ourselves and our children if we do not keep the law.

3rd & 4th Sections: Moshe designated the Cities of Refuge, and reviewed the entire experience of Revelation and the receiving of the Ten Commandments.

5th, 6th & 7th Sections: Moshe stressed the reaction of the nation after the giving of the Torah, and forewarned them not deviate from the Torah, either to the right or the to the left. The first paragraph of Shema is recorded. (6:10-15) Moshe warned the people about the dangers of prosperity, and directed them to keep the commandments and remember the Exodus. Moshe forewarned them about the dangers of assimilation and told them to always remember that they are the Chosen People.

Haftara: Isaiah; Chapter 40 Verse 1 – 26

Haftara Summary: This week’s haftarah is the first of a series of seven “haftarot of Consolation.” These seven haftarot commence on the Shabbat following Tisha B’Av and continue until Rosh Hashanah.

This section of Isaiah begins with G‑d’s exhortation to the prophets: “Console, O console My people . . . Announce to Jerusalem that her period of exile has been fulfilled and that her sins have been forgiven.”

Isaiah’s prophecy describes some of the miraculous events that will unfold with the onset of the messianic era, such as the return of the exiles to Jerusalem, the revelation of G‑d’s glory, and the rewards and retribution that will then be meted out.

The prophet then goes on to comfort the people, describing G‑d’s power and might, and reassuring them of His care for His people.

Sun, August 19 2018 8 Elul 5778