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Chol Hamoed Sukkot

General Overview: G‑d agrees to Moses' request that His presence only dwell amongst the Jews. Moses requests to be shown G‑d's glory. G‑d agrees, but informs Moses that he will only be shown G‑d's "back," not G‑d's "face."

G‑d tells Moses to carve new tablets upon which G‑d will engrave the Ten Commandments. Moses takes the new tablets up to Mt. Sinai, where G‑d reveals His glory to Moses while proclaiming His Thirteen Attributes of Mercy.

G‑d seals a covenant with Moses, assuring him again that His presence will only dwell with the Jews. G‑d informs the Jewish people that He will drive the Canaanites from before them. He instructs them to destroy all vestiges of idolatry from the land, not to make molten gods, to refrain from making any covenants with its current inhabitants, to sanctify male firstborn humans and cattle, and not to cook meat together with milk.

The Jews are commanded to observe the three festivals — including the holiday of Sukkot, "the festival of the ingathering, at the turn of the year." All males are commanded to make pilgrimage to "be seen by G‑d" during these three festivals.

The maftir, from the Book of Numbers, discusses the public offerings brought in the Temple on this day of Sukkot.

Parashat Ha'azinu

General Overview: The bulk of this week's Torah reading, Ha'azinu, consists of a poetic song delivered by Moses and Joshua. The song is a prophecy of what will transpire to the Jews – the good and the bad – until the end of times. The portion concludes with G‑d commanding Moses to climb Mount Nebo, from where he would see the Promised Land before his passing.

First Aliyah: The heavens and earth, permanent fixtures of this world, are called upon to be witnesses to the words which Moses will now say. The Torah, Moses declares, is life to this world, much as rain and dew are to vegetation. G‑d is righteous and just, and all corruption stems from His children, who are thankless and lack the wisdom to recognize the source of all their blessing.

Second Aliyah: Moses beseeches the Israelites to contemplate their history, starting with the generation of the Tower of Babylon. When that generation sinned, G‑d could have destroyed humanity, but instead chose to spare them, only because of Israel — G‑d's portion — which was destined to arise from those people. In the desert, in a "desolate, howling wasteland," G‑d enveloped and protected the Israelites with clouds, caring for His nation as an eagle tenderly cares for his offspring, treating them like the pupil of His eye. "G‑d alone guided them, and no other god was able to disturb them."

Third Aliyah: Moses then speaks of the Israelites' future. G‑d settled them in the Land of Israel, the "peak of the earth." He provided them with their every need, the choicest produce, fruit and cattle. But Israel "became fat and rebelled," and abandoned the G‑d that made them and provided them with all their wealth and fortune. Instead they strayed after idols and abominable activities.

Fourth Aliyah: G‑d became incensed by His children's behavior. He decided to hide His face from them, and to send upon them invading armies, wild beasts, plagues, demons, and famine. If not for the obtuse nations who would have foolishly taken credit for Israel's demise, G‑d would've utterly destroyed the Jewish nation.

Fifth Aliyah: If the nations were wise they would have understood that no nation could experience such utter devastation unless G‑d had completely abandoned them and delivered them to their enemies. Otherwise, "How can one enemy pursue a thousand of Israel and two put ten thousand to flight?" Rather, the Israelites' misery came as a result of their actions, which resembled those of Sodom and Gomorrah, actions which G‑d chronicled from the start. However, the time will then come when G‑d will have a change of heart regarding His people. At that point He will ask them to note that all the gods which they had patronized were unable to help them when He unleashed His punishments against them, for only G‑d has the ability to injure or heal, cause death or bring life.

Sixth Aliyah: Then G‑d will turn His wrath against Israel's oppressors. "I will make My arrows drunk with their blood, My sword will consume their flesh." At that time, when G‑d will avenge the blood of His servants, the nations of the world will sing the praises of Israel. With this, the song of Ha'azinu concludes.

Seventh Aliyah: Moses and Joshua teach this song to the Israelites. Moses implores the people: "Pay close attention to this: it isn't an empty teaching; it is our life, and with it we will long endure on our land." G‑d then tells Moses to climb up Mount Nebo, from where he will view the land of Israel from afar before he passes away.

Parashat Vayelech

General Overview: This week's reading, Vayelech, recounts the events of the final day of Moses' terrestrial life. Moses transferred leadership to Joshua and wrote a Torah scroll which he handed over to the Levites. Moses commanded the Israelites to gather following every Sabbatical year, and informed them of the suffering which will be their lot when they will abandon the laws of the Torah.

First Aliyah: Moses addressed the people, saying that he is 120 years of age on that day, and he is not permitted to cross the Jordan River together with them. Instead, Joshua will lead them, and G‑d will go before them and destroy their enemies.

Second Aliyah: Moses continued his talk: G‑d will vanquish the inhabitants of Canaan as He did the Emorites and Bashanites. Moses enjoined the Israelites to be strong and not fear their enemies.

Third Aliyah: Moses summoned Joshua and told him to be strong and courageous, for G‑d will be going before him and will not forsake him. Moses then wrote the entire Torah and gave it to the Kohnaim (priests) and the Israelite elders.

Fourth Aliyah: Moses gives the commandment of Hakhel (assembly), whereby every seven years, during the holiday of Sukkot which follows the Sabbatical year, all men, women, and children assemble and the king publicly reads sections of the Torah.

Fifth Aliyah: G‑d commanded Moses to enter the Tabernacle together with Joshua. G‑d appeared to them both and informed them that a time will come when the Israelites will abandon G‑d and stray after alien gods. At that time, G‑d will hide His countenance from the nation, and they will be subjected to much evils and troubles. Therefore, G‑d says, "Write for yourselves this song, and teach it to the Children of Israel. Place it into their mouths, in order that this song will be for Me as a witness..." This 'song' is narrated in next week's Torah reading.

Sixth Aliyah: When G‑d's wrath will find the Israelites as a consequence of their evil actions, they will claim that the misfortunes are befalling them because G‑d has abandoned them. At that time, the song which Moses and Joshua wrote will bear testimony that these events are in fact punishment for their sinful behavior.

Seventh Aliyah: Moses took the freshly concluded Torah scroll and gave it to the Levites. He instructed them to place it beside the Ark which contained the Tablets. Moses then gathered the entire nation to hear the song, wherein he would call upon the heavens and earth to be witnesses that the Israelites were forewarned regarding their fate.

Parashat Nitzavim

General Overview: In this week’s reading, Nitzavim, Moses gathers the Israelites on the day of his passing to enter them into a covenant with G‑d. He warns of the exile and desolation of the Holy Land that will result when Israel abandons G‑d’s laws, but assures them that they will eventually repent, and G‑d will then return His people to the Land. This portion also talks about freedom of choice and the mitzvah of teshuvah (repentance).

First Aliyah: On the final day of his earthly life, Moses gathered all the Israelites—men, women, and children—to enter them into a covenant with G‑d.

Second Aliyah: This covenant established the Israelites as G‑d’s exclusive nation. The covenant, Moses explained, was not limited to those who were physically present on that day; rather, it included all future generations of Jews as well.

Third Aliyah: Moses warned the Israelites not to be tempted by the idolatrous lifestyles of the Egyptians and the other sundry nations through which they had passed in the course of their travels. Moses warned of the dire consequences which will befall the individual, family or tribe which would forsake their covenant with G‑d. This section concludes with the concept of communal responsibility for not appropriately punishing individual sinners.

Fourth Aliyah: Moses informed the Israelites what will occur after they are exiled from their land due to their sins. Eventually they will wholeheartedly return to G‑d, and G‑d will gather them from the furthest reaches of the heavens and return them to the land of their forefathers. At that point, Moses says, “G‑d will ‘circumcise’ your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you may love the L‑rd your G‑d with all your heart and with all your soul.”

Fifth Aliyah: When G‑d gathers His people’s exiles, the curses which accompanied them throughout their sojourn in foreign lands will be placed upon their enemies who persecuted them. The Israelites will once again serve G‑d, and will be blessed with abundance in the work of their hands, the fruit of their wombs, the fruit of their land and the fruit of their livestock.

Sixth Aliyah: Moses enjoins the people to follow the mitzvot, informing them that “it is not beyond you, nor is it remote from you. It is not in heaven . . . It is not across the sea . . . Rather, it is very close to you, in your mouth, in your heart, that you may do it.”

Seventh Aliyah: Moses tells the Jewish people that they have been given free choice to choose between good and evil, life and death. Their choice will determine whether they are the beneficiaries of G‑d’s blessings or curses. Moses implores the Israelites to choose life.

Fri, October 18 2019 19 Tishrei 5780