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Parashat Lech Lecha Summary; Genesis; Chapter 12 Verse 1 - Chapter 17 Verse 27

General Overview: Avram and Sarai travel to Canaan. Due to a famine in the land they temporarily relocate to Egypt, where Pharaoh unsuccessfully attempts to keep Sarai as a wife. They return to Canaan with great wealth and Avram parts with his nephew Lot. Avram defeats the armies of the four kings who had taken his nephew Lot hostage. G‑d seals a pact with Avram, bestowing the lands of Canaan to his descendants. Childless Avram marries Hagar and she gives birth to Yishmael. G‑d changes Avram's name to Avraham, and Sarai becomes Sarah. Abraham is circumcised at the age of 99.

1st Section: Avram is instructed to leave Charan and travel 400 miles to the Land of Canaan. (Charan was 600 miles from Ur Casdim). Upon arriving, they are forced to leave Canaan, due to a local famine, and travel to Egypt in search of food.

2nd Section: Avram plans for his encounter with the amorality of Egypt. His and Sarai’s confrontation with Pharaoh is detailed. Avram and Sarai return home.

3rd Section: Avram separates from his nephew / brother-in-law Lot, due to Lot’s defection from the teachings of Avram. Hashem reassures Avram that he will have children, “like the dust of the earth”, who will inherit the Land and carry on his work.

4th Section: Avram is forced to rescue Lot from captivity. In so doing, he adjusts the balance of power in Canaan and is recognized by the other political leaders for his military and moral strength. His encounter with Malki Tzedek (Shem) is in stark contrast to his confrontation with the King of Sodom.

5th Section: Hashem again reassures Avram that he will have genetic children (not just students) who would be as numerous as the stars in the sky.

6th Section: The monumental “Covenant Between the Halves” takes place during which the next 430 years of Jewish history is revealed. Avram is 70 years old. Sarai instructs Avram to marry Hagar. The story of her conflict with Sarai, her encounter with an angel, and the birth of Yishmael in 2034 is told. Following the birth of Yishmael, Avram’s name is changed to Avraham.

7th Section: Avraham is presented with the Mitzvah (commandment) of Circumcision (Brit Milah). Sarai’s name is changed to Sarah, and Hashem assures Avraham he and Sarah will have a son called Yitzchak. It is the year 2047 and Avraham circumcises himself (at the age of 99), Yishmael (at the age of 13), and his entire household.

Haftara: Isaiah; Chapter 40 Verse 27 – Chapter 41 Verse 16

The haftara for this week discusses Avraham's journey to the land of Canaan at G‑d's behest, and touches upon Avraham's miraculous battle against the four kings, both of which are described in this week's Torah reading.

The prophet Isaiah addresses Israel's complaint: ""My way [of serving G‑d] has been ignored by the Lord, and from my G‑d, my judgment passes [unrewarded]."

Isaiah reminds Israel of the Creator's greatness. The time will come when "He will give the tired strength, and to him who has no strength, He will increase strength. Youths shall become tired and weary, and young men shall stumble, but those who put their hope in the Lord shall renew [their] vigor, they shall raise wings as eagles; they shall run and not weary, they shall walk and not tire." Nevertheless, "there is no comprehension of His wisdom," and as such, at times we cannot understand why He chooses to delay the reward of the righteous.

The haftara then turns its attention to the idolatrous nations of the world. Isaiah reminds them of Avraham's greatness, how after arriving in Canaan he pursued and defeated four mighty kings. "The islands saw and feared; the ends of the earth quaked." Nevertheless, the nations who witnessed these miracles did not abandon their ways. "The [idol] craftsman strengthened the smith, the one who smoothens [the idol] with the hammer strengthened the one who wields the sledgehammer; the one who glues its coating says, "It is good," and he strengthened it with nails that it should not move..."

G‑d promises the Jewish nation to reward them for their loyalty to G‑d. "Do not fear for I am with you; be not discouraged for I am your G‑d. . . Behold all those incensed against you shall be ashamed and confounded; those who quarreled with you shall be as naught and be lost."

 

Parashat Noach Summary; Genesis; Chapter 6 Verse 9 – Chapter 11 Verse 32

Parashat Noach Summary; Genesis; Chapter 6 Verse 9 – Chapter 11 Verse 32

General Overview: In this week's Torah reading, Noach and his family, along with at least one pair of each living creature, survive the Flood by taking refuge in an Ark. The erection of the Tower of Babel angers G‑d, and leads to the dispersal of Noach’s descendants. Abraham and Sarah are born.

1st Section: Noach, a righteous man, is introduced in contrast to a generation that “has perverted its ways”. G-d instructs him to build, and outfit the Ark.

2nd Section: Noach is told to enter the Ark along with all the animals. The flood began on the 17th of the month of Cheshvan in the year 1656 (since the birth of Adam) – which corresponds to October 27th 2106 b.c.e.

3rd Section: For 40 days and nights the waters increased, destroying all living things. The water raged upon the surface of the earth for 150 days, and then diminished for the next 150. The ark rested upon Mt. Ararat on the 17th of Nissan (May 23rd). Noach sends out the Raven and then the Dove, and on the 27th of Cheshvan 27 (October 27), exactly 1 solar year after the flood began, the earth was dry.

4th Section: Noach and his family exit the ark, and offer sacrifices to G-d. They are commanded to keep the 7 Noachide laws.

5th Section: G-d promises to never again destroy the world and designates the rainbow as the symbol of that covenant.

6th Section: The story of Noach, the vineyard, and the subsequent blessings and curses is related. The descendants of Cham, Yefet, and Canaan are listed.

7th Section: The story of the Tower of Babel in 1996 (since the birth of Adam) and Nimrod’s world dominance is told. The 10 generations of Shem, culminating in the introduction of Avram (later to be known as Avraham) and Sarai (later to be known as Sarah), are listed. The year is 2023. Note that Avram was 48 years old when the Tower of Babel took place and he was 56 years old when Noach died.

Special Maftir: This Shabbat is actually Shabbat Rosh Chodesh, and therefore after the seven sections of this week’s Parasha are read, we read the special Torah portion that is read on Rosh Chodesh (Numbers; Chapter 28 Verses 9-15).

Haftara: Isaiah; Chapter 54:1 – 55:5

Haftara Summary: This Shabbat we read about Israel in the aftermath of the destruction of the Temple as afflicted, barren, and inconsolable. The Navi assures the people that Hashem’s kindness and love for them is ever present, protecting, and sustaining. This is the same Haftorah as Parshat Ki Tetzei. (the 4th Haftara of Consolation)

Verse 54:9 refers to the destruction of Jerusalem as “…this is like the waters of Noach to me…” The Navi lets us know that destruction occurs when Hashem’s kindness and protection is removed from the world and from Israel. “For a brief moment I forsook you…” (54:7) “…for a moment I hid my face from you…” (54:8)

The Navi concludes with the reassurance that Hashem remembers His covenant with the world and the Chosen People. Consequences are the result of Hashem’s presence being more or less manifest in society. The degree to which we reveal Hashem’s influence in our lives is the degree to which His protection and supervision is realized. Our job is to reveal Hashem through doing His commandments and learning His Torah.

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Parashat Bereshit Summary; Genesis; Chapter 1 Verse 1 – Chapter 6 Verse 8

General Overview: This week we start with the first portion of the entire Torah, Bereshit. G‑d creates the world in six days and rests on the seventh. Adam and Chava eat from the Tree of Knowledge and are expelled from the Garden of Eden. Cain slays Abel and is punished accordingly. Enumeration of the ten generations between Adam and Noah, the birth of Noach, and the degeneration of mankind.

1st Section: The story of creation of the world in six days. On the first day G‑d made darkness and light. On the second day He formed the heavens, dividing the "upper waters" from the "lower waters." On the third day He set the boundaries of land and sea and called forth trees and greenery from the earth. On the fourth day He fixed the position of the sun, moon and stars. On the fifth day fish, birds and reptiles were created. On the sixth day land-animals and then the human being, Adam were created. G‑d ceased work on the seventh day, and sanctified it as a day of rest.

2nd Section: Discusses the events of the sixth day of creation in greater detail. After Adam was formed from the earth, G‑d placed him in a garden just east of Eden. G‑d permitted Adam to eat from any tree in the garden, with the exception of the Tree of Knowledge. Adam named all the animals and birds, and G‑d decided that Adam needed a mate.

3rd Section: G‑d caused Adam to fall into a deep slumber and formed a woman, Eve, from one of his sides. Adam was delighted with his new mate. The serpent, at the time the wisest of all animals, sweet-talked Eve into eating from the fruit of the forbidden Tree of Knowledge. Eve shared the fruit with Adam, and imbued with a new sense of knowledge and awareness, they were ashamed of their nakedness and clothed themselves.

4th Section: Adam and Eve were then expelled from the Garden of Eden. Eve gave birth to two sons, Cain and Abel. When Abel's offering to G‑d was accepted, while Cain's was rejected, Cain murdered his brother in a jealous rage. G‑d punished Cain, designating him to be a lifelong wanderer, but postponing his ultimate punishment for seven generations.

5th Section: The sixth generation descendent of Cain was Lemech, who fathered several children who were seventh generation descendants of Cain.

6th Section: Lemech accidentally killed his great-great-great-great-grandfather Cain in a hunting accident; the blood of Abel was finally avenged. Adam and Eve gave birth to a third son, Seth. This section then chronicles the first seven generations of mankind, from Adam to the righteous Enoch.

7th Section: The next three generations are chronicled in this section, concluding with Noah, the tenth generation from Adam. At this point in time, the degeneration of man’s relationship with Hashem and wickedness and immorality reached such proportions that G‑d regretted creating man. G‑d gave the world 120 years to clean up their act or be destroyed. Noach, on the other hand, was an exception. He was righteous and found favor in G‑d's eyes.

Haftara: Isaiah; Chapter 42 Verse 5 – Chapter 43 Verse 10

Haftara Summary: The haftarah of this week's reading opens with a statement by "the Almighty G‑d, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who laid out the earth and made grow from it." This echoes the Torah portion's recounting of the creation of the world in six days.

G‑d speaks to the prophet Isaiah, reminding him of his life's purpose and duty, namely that of arousing the Jewish people to return to being a light unto the nations, "To open blind eyes, to bring prisoners out of a dungeon; those who sit in darkness out of a prison."

The prophecy continues with a discussion regarding the Final Redemption, and the song that all of creation will sing to G‑d on that day. G‑d promises to punish all the nations that have persecuted Israel while they were exiled. The prophet also rebukes Israel for their errant ways, but assures them that they will return to the correct path and will be redeemed.

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Parashat Ha’azinu: Deuteronomy; Chapter 32 Verses 1 – 52

1st Section: Moshe begins by describing the presence of Hashem in nature as being as evident as the rain or dew that nourish the fields and gardens. G-d is entirely just, always good, always compassionate and forgiving. Therefore, all destruction and negativity must be ascribed directly to the ill-fated decisions and actions of His children.

2nd Section: The Jew must always remember that he was chosen from among all other nations to be nurtured by the direct ministrations of the Creator. We were born in a “desolate, howling, wasteland” and protected till we were able to assume responsibility for our unique relationship with the Creator of heaven and earth.

3rd Section: Unfortunately, humankind’s tendency is to forget the degree of their dependency upon Hashem and to create the illusion of self-sufficiency and independence. “Yeshurun thus became fat and rebelled…”

4th Section: We will then be punished with exile and persecution. Chased from our land and sold into slavery, the Chosen People will experience what it means to be independent of Hashem’s direct protection and benevolence.

5th Section: However, the other nations will fail in the very same manner that we did. They will assume that their ability to enslave the Chosen People and ravage Israel is proof of G-d’s impotence and their own prowess and strength. Therefore, they will be punished and destroyed and the Chosen People will again recognize Hashem’s primacy and control.

6th Section: Moshe’s song ends with the Jewish people singing forth their acceptance and understanding of divine purpose and justice.

7th Section: Moshe presents the entire “song” to the nation and reemphasizes that the condition for keeping the Land is adherence to Torah and serving Hashem.

Haftara: Shmuel 2; Chapter 22 Verses 1 – 51

Haftara Summary: This Haftara is always read between Yom Kippur and Sukkot. It is also read on the 7th day of Pesach and is found in a modified form in Psalm 18.

King David is singing the praises of Hashem. He has lived a turbulent yet gifted life, and he is giving thanksgiving to Hashem for his numerous victories and successes. In many respects it reflects the same sense of Hashem’s complete control as in Parshat Ha’azinu.

King David gazes back upon the events of his life with a clarity of vision and understanding. He describes Hashem as his “Rock, Fortress, and Deliverer”. (22:2) David recognizes that he too has merited to fulfill one of G-d’s promises, no less important than bringing the Children of Israel to the borders of the land of Israel. He has given birth to the Davidic line that assures the building of the Temple and the coming of Mashiach.

In more ways than can possibly be counted, all of history, from the beginning of time till that moment, conspired to effect redemption for the world. Through the divine power of David’s song, Hashem is given total credit for every turn and twist of destiny. His every trial and tribulation equals the sum total of Hashem’s constant love and protection. “As for G-d, His way is perfect… He is a shield for all who trust in Him.” (22:31)

The magnificence of David’s song reaches across the millennium to inspire and encourage all of us to recognize Hashem’s love and protection. The final words are familiar because they were incorporated into the conclusion of the Birkat Hamazon.

This Parasha and Haftara perfectly reflect the transition from Yom Kippur to Sukkot. The climax of Yom Kippur is the end of Neilah when we publicly proclaim the absolute mastery of G-d over all human and natural affairs. The term “Hashem” reflects upon the G-d of mercy who is intimately involved in the lives of humanity. The term “Elokim” reflects upon the G-d of justice who maintains the inviolable laws of nature. At the conclusion of Yom Kippur we have reached, if only for a moment, the understanding that the G-d of mercy and justice, the G-d of nature and mankind are one and the same. We are able to accept that the entire universe works in concert with Hashem in responding to man’s actions. Whatever the outcome, Hashem’s purpose is positive and beneficial for both the present and all future generations.

Although this is difficult to accept given the imposed limitations of mortality, we exit from that singular moment of awareness at the end of Yom Kippur and launch ourselves into a two week period of joyous and symbolic service. “And you should rejoice in your holiday,” is a commandment unique to this holiday period. We are to revel in the awareness of our dependency upon Hashem. We are to rejoice in the acceptance of G-d’s goodness.

Both Moshe in Ha’azinu, and David in the Haftara, declare their acceptance of G-d’s justice as the ultimate expression of mercy and compassion. We now act out our acceptance by eating and sleeping in a temporary dwelling reminiscent of the 40 years of total dependency in the Sinai Desert. With the shaking of the Lulav, we bind together the symbolic elements of every individual Jew, as well as the totality of the Jewish people, in a communal acknowledgment of Hashem’s mastery over all things.

This concept of acceptance is the single greatest challenge we have in our relationship with the Creator. It is expected that we will struggle with the consequences of divine justice from year to year. Yet, as believers in the reality of “Elokim”, we posture and behave as if we are understanding as well as accepting of G-d’s justice. We too wish to joyously proclaim every day, not just at the end of Yom Kippur, “Shema Yisroel…” “Hear Israel…” the two manifestations of G-d’s reality, Elokim – the G-d of Justice and Hashem – the G-d of Mercy, are really One.

Parashat Vayelech: Deuteronomy; Chapter 31 Verses 1 – 30

Parashat Vayelech: Deuteronomy; Chapter 31 Verses 1 – 30

It’s the 7th day of Adar, 2488, the last day of Moshe’s life. Exactly 120 years earlier the world was graced with the birth of a child who brought redemption to his people and the light of Torah to the world. He became a prophet of unparalleled greatness who led his nation through a miraculous 40 year journey to the edge of the promised land.

Trials and tribulations, rebellions and conspiracies, disillusionment and questions were his lot in life. Yet, Moshe never gave up. He nurtured the Jews “like a mother cares for her child”. He confronted man and G-d in protecting his charges, and succeeded in bringing the people, both physically and spiritually intact, to the fulfillment of a 500 year old promise. Now he had to put his affairs in order, finish his work, and insure an unquestioned transition of leadership to his student Yehoshua. This is the focus of Parashat Vayelech.

1st & 2nd Sections: Moshe emphasized Hashem’s continued presence and protection, even though, Moshe himself would not be with them any longer. Ever since assuming the leadership of Israel, Moshe had the conflicting job of fostering the nations dependency upon Hashem while de-emphasizing their dependency upon him as a leader and provider. Now, as he prepared his final good-bye, it was clear that by day’s end, with Moshe’s death, the nation would have no other choice but to reassess their dependency on Moshe and direct their attention to Hashem.

However, this was far more complex than it seemed. True, Moshe’s death would be a definitive “cutting of the apron strings”; but, living in the Land by the laws of nature rather than miracles would de-emphasize G-d’s overt role in all aspects of their lives.

3rd & 4th Sections: By writing the entire text of the Torah, entrusting it into the care of the Kohanim, and explaining the unique mitzvah of Hakhel, Moshe hoped that the people would retain the perspective of their dependency upon Hashem. The Kohanim represented the continued presence of “G-d in the midst of the camp”. As teachers and role models, they kept an otherwise dispersed and decentralized nation focused on their national and individual missions.

Once every 7 years, the entire nation gathered in the Bet Hamikdash in a recreation of the giving of the Torah. This national expression of devotion would serve as an essential reminder that adherence to the Torah is the reason why the nation occupied and retained the Land.

5th, 6th & 7th Sections: Moshe and Yehoshua were summoned to the Ohel Moed and told the harsh future of their charges. In spite of all the warnings, the people would sin and loose sight of their dependency upon Hashem. They would be punished, and instead of accepting responsibility for the consequences that their neglect of G-d’s commandments caused, they would have the chutzpah to blame G-d’s absence and neglect for the calamities and disasters that had befallen them.(31:17) It would then be the very words of this “Song” which would testify to the reality of their defection from Hashem and the inevitable consequences which occurred, as forewarned in this Torah.

Yehoshua was encouraged to be strong and courageous and lead the nation with the same devotion that Moshe had. The Torah, written by Moshe himself, was then placed in the Ark as proof of the conditions by which the Jewish.

Haftara: Hosea; Chapter 14 Verses 2 – 10, and Micha; Chapter 7 Verses 18 – 20

Haftara Summary: The Shabbat between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is known as Shabbat Teshuva or "Shabbat of Return (Repentance)." The name is a reference to the opening words of the week's haftara, "Shuva Israel — Return O Israel." This haftara is read in honor of the Ten Days of Repentance, the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

The prophet Hosea exhorts the Jewish people to "Return, O Israel, to the L-rd your G‑d," encouraging them to repent sincerely and ask for G‑d's forgiveness. Hosea urges the Jews to put their trust in G‑d, not in Assyria, powerful horses or idols. At that point, G‑d promises to remove His anger from Israel, "I will be like dew to Israel, they shall blossom like a rose." The prophet then goes on to foretell the return of the exiles and the cessation of idol-worship amongst the people.

The haftorah concludes with a brief portion from the Book of Micah, which describes G‑d's kindness in forgiving the sins of His people. "He does not maintain His anger forever, for He is a lover of kindness. He will have mercy on us, He will grasp our iniquities and cast all our sins into the depths of the sea." Micah concludes with an enjoinder to G‑d to remember the pacts He made with the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Parashat Nitzavim; Deuteronomy; Chapter 29 Verse 9 – Chapter 30 Verse 20

Parashat Nitzavim: Deuteronomy; Chapter 29 Verse 9 – Chapter 30 Verse 20

It’s about time we stopped making excuses and took responsibility for who and what we are. It’s long overdue. Here we are at the threshold of a new-year and it’s all about being honest with ourselves. The degree of our commitment to Torah and Mitzvot will be in direct proportion to how many excuses we make for ourselves in avoiding commitment. The more the excuses, the less the commitment. As Moshe continued his final discourse, he confronted the primary excuses we all use in avoiding commitment and responsibility.

1st & 2nd Sections: Moshe presented the entire nation with the basis for our covenant with G-d. Starting with the promise to the forefathers and stretching across 500 years of history, our relationship with G-d had been substantiated through miracle after miracle. Yet, future generations might deny their personal obligation to continue the relationship and its attendant responsibilities. Therefore; Moshe made it absolutely clear that each generation is obligated to educate their children and train them to accept the covenant with G-d. Subsequent generation should not be able to excuse their responsibilities for Torah and Mitzvot due to ignorance.

3rd Section: The next excuse Moshe confronted was the modernization of Torah. In every generation there are those who see Torah as archaic and outdated. “Only by grafting new ideas and practices to the stale practices of Torah will Judaism continue to exist and flourish.” This excuse for changing Torah’s eternal truths will result in the compromise of Torah observance, our land, and our people.

4th & 5th Sections: As history will tragically prove, Moshe’s warnings would be ignored. Subsequent generations would wonder about the destruction and desolation and, in their search for answers, return to the uncompromised truths and practices of their forefathers.

6th Section: As a generation of Baalei Teshuva find their way back, many will be overwhelmed by the seemingly inaccessibility of Torah knowledge. Moshe reassures us that Torah is accessible to all those who truly desire it. Ignorance and a lack of opportunity for learning should never be an excuse.

7th Section: Finally, Moshe presented the bottom line. Endowed with free will we must choose properly. In the end, we are responsible for what happens.

Haftara: Isiah; Chapter 61 Verse 10 – Chapter 63 Verse 9

Haftara Summary: This week's haftara is the 7th and final Haftara of Consolation. Coming before Rosh Hashana, this selection perfectly focuses us on the intended purpose of the High Holy Days.

We are dependent upon Hashem. He is the source of our protection, well being, and purpose. His constant love and attention is evident in the miracle of our survival and the strength of our limited numbers. As the Navi prepared the hope which allows us to place tragedy in perspective, we prepare ourselves to acknowledge Hashem’s providence through prayer and justice. There will soon come a time when we, as the Chosen People, will embrace the gift of G-d’s special attention. At that time the “…nations will see your righteousness and all the kings your glory…”

Glory and honor are the byproducts of devotion and commitment. Our responsibility in the coming days is to “…recount G-d’s mercies and praises…” Our goal is to acknowledge G-d and for G-d to proclaim “…Surely they are my people… (63:8)

Parashat Ki Tavo; Deuteronomy; Chapter 26 Verse 1 – Chapter 29 Verse 8

General Overview: Following the last two Torah portions that focused on Justice and the value of individual rights, Moshe directed the nation’s attention to the realities of what it meant to live in the Land of Israel.

Our behaviors, as well as natural law, are subject to the word of G-d and interface with each other in the most intimate example of cause and effect. As the Chosen People, our lifestyle should manifest the ever-present mastery of the Creator over mankind and the realization of the connection between our adherence of Mitzvot and the laws of nature. This is most apparent in the Land of Israel. As Moshe told the Jewish people in Parshat Ekev, (11:12) “It is therefore a land constantly under Hashem’s scrutiny…” As clearly as the rain and dew fall, the land reflects G-d’s presence. Keeping the Mitzvot of the Torah proclaims in word and deed G-d’s mastery over man and results in nature serving man as her accepted master. By ignoring or opposing the Torah we deny G-d’s mastery over man; and in turn, nature opposes man’s attempts at mastery over the natural world.

During the 40 years of the desert, the Jews were being prepared to accept the reality of Hashem’s mastery and the responsibility of keeping His Mitzvot. Now, in Parshat Ki Tavo, as they were poised to cross the Jordan river and assume their intended place as “… highest of all the nations on earth.” (28:1) Moshe commanded a number of declarations and ceremonies. These ceremonies would underscore the cause and effect relationship that exists between adherence to Torah, the laws of nature, and the divine responsiveness of the land.

1st & 2nd Sections: The Torah portion begins with the Mitzvot of the first fruits and the completion of the Tithing cycles. Both are accompanied by special declarations of Hashem’s mastery over the land, and man’s responsibility to keep the commandments of Hashem.

3rd, 4th & 5th Sections: Moshe presents a statement of allegiance between Hashem and His People. We are to keep the Torah and Hashem guarantees us praise, fame and glory as the “highest of all the nations”. (26:19) Upon crossing the Jordan river, the Nation will publicly declare its acceptance of Hashem’s covenant by: inscribing the Torah upon twelve stones; erecting them as a monument; and the ceremony of blessings and curses that is to take place between the opposing mountains, Grizim and Eval.

6th Section: Commonly known as the Tochecha, the admonitions and punishments. It describes the consequences that will befall the Jewish people if they ignore Hashem’s Torah and his providence. The custom is for the Reader to read this section more quickly and quietly than the rest of the Parasha.

7th Section: The Torah portion concludes with the beginning of Moshe’s final discourse. He starts by recounting the miraculous nature of the past 40 years and its clear indication of Hashem’s protection, in the present, past and future.

Haftara: Isaiah; Chapter 60 Verse 1 – 22

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

In glowing terms the prophet recounts descriptions of what will unfold during the Redemption. Beginning with the resurrection of the dead and the ingathering of the exiles, continuing with the joy and abundance the Jewish people will then experience, as well as the gifts that will be brought to G‑d from all of the nations of the world.

Finally, the Jewish nation will no longer be despised and derided, there will no longer be violence nor mourning, and G‑d will shine His everlasting light on His people.

Parashat Ki Tetze; Deuteronomy; Chapter 21 Verse 10 – Chapter 25 Verse 19

General Overview: This week's Torah portion contains 74 commandments, more mitzvot than any other Torah portion. Some of the commandments discussed are: the law of the rebellious son, the obligation to bury the dead without undue delay, the requirement to return a found object, the prohibition against causing pain to any living creature, the prohibition against prostitution, the laws of marriage and divorce, the procedure of the Levirate marriage, and the obligation to eradicate the memory of Amalek.

1st Section: In an illuminating sequence of emotional and legal circumstances, Moshe forewarned us of the moral and familial dangers of warfare. A soldier brings home a non-Jewish female captive. Disregarding rational and obvious differences, he marries her, has his first son with her, and eventually resents the discord he has fostered upon himself, his “captive wife”, and his extended family. Attempting to deny his responsibility in the “resentment turned to hatred” breaking apart his family, he attempts to deny his firstborn son’s rights. This is illegal.

This can Produce the “Rebellious Son”; a child who does not value the private rights of person or property and will eventually be executed for his crimes against society. It’s a tragedy that begs us to consider the long-term consequences of our actions before giving legal license to the desire and lust within each of us.

2nd Section: The laws regarding: hanging and burial; returning lost articles; the fallen animal; transvestitism; and the birds nest are detailed.

3rd Section: The laws regarding: guard rails; mixed agriculture; forbidden combinations; Tzitzit; the defamed wife; if the accusations against the wife are true; the penalty for adultery; the rape of a betrothed or unmarried girl; the prohibition against marrying a father’s wife; the Mamzer; and the prohibition against marrying an Ammonite or Moabite are detailed.

4th Section: The laws regarding: marriage to Edomites or Egyptians; the sanctity of the army camp; sheltering runaway slaves; prostitution; deducted interest; and keeping vows are commanded.

5th & 6th Sections: The laws regarding: workers eating while they harvest; divorce and remarriage; military exemptions for a new husband; taking a millstone as security for a loan; the punishment for kidnapping; leprosy; general laws regarding security for loans, are detailed.

7th Section: The laws regarding paying wages on time; the testimony of close relatives; concern for the widowed and orphaned; forgotten sheaves of grain; leftover fruit from the harvest; Malkut – flogging; the childless sister-in-law; the assailant and the wife who comes to the rescue; honest weights and measures; and remembering Amalek are commanded.

Haftara: Isaiah; Chapter 54 Verse 1 – 10)

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

Forsaken Jerusalem is likened to a barren woman devoid of children. G‑d enjoins her to rejoice, for the time will soon come when the Jewish nation will return and proliferate, repopulating Israel's once desolate cities. The prophet assures the Jewish people that G‑d has not forsaken them. Although He has momentarily hidden His countenance from them, He will gather them from their exiles with great mercy. The Haftorah compares the final Redemption to the pact G‑d made with Noah. Just as G‑d promised to never bring a flood over the entire earth, so too He will never again be angry at the Jewish people.

"For the mountains may move and the hills might collapse, but My kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall the covenant of My peace collapse."

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.

Tue, October 23 2018 14 Cheshvan 5779