AUGUST BIRTHDAYS, ANNIVERSARIES, AND SIGNIFICANT EVENTS
Mazal Tov – Mazal Bueno to all those celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or significant event during the Month of August. If we were together at Temple Kol Hamidbar, we would extend a Tallit over you, recite a special prayer for you, and recite the following blessing (cf Num. 6:24-26):
- May the Eternal One bless you and protect you!
- May the Eternal One deal kindly and graciously with you!
- May the Eternal One bestow favor upon you and grant you peace!
KËIN YEHI RATZON (Let it be so!)
And if you do obey these rules and observe them carefully, the Eternal your God will maintain faithfully for you the covenant made on oath with your fathers. – Deuteronomy 7:12
- Moses tells the Israelites that if they follow God’s laws, the nations who now dwell across the Jordan River will not harm them. (7:12–26)
- Moses reminds the people of the virtues of keeping God’s commandments. He also tells them that they will dispossess those who now live in the Land only because they are idolatrous, not because the Israelites are uncommonly virtuous. Thereupon, Moses reviews all of the trespasses of the Israelites against God. (8:1–10:11)
- Moses says that the Land of Israel will overflow with milk and honey if the people obey God’s commandments and teach them to their children. (10:12–11:25)
The parashah tells of the blessings of obedience to God, the dangers of forgetting God, and directions for taking the Land of Israel. Moses recalls the making and re-making of the Tablets of Stone, the incident of the Golden Calf, Aaron‘s death, the Levites‘ duties, and exhortations to serve God.
The opening sentence of the Amidah prayer quotes Moses’s characterization of God in Deuteronomy 10:17 as “the great, the mighty, and the awesome [Ha’Ël hagadol hagibor v’hanora].”
Dr. Nathan MacDonald of St John’s College, Cambridge, reported some dispute over the meaning of the description of the Land of Israel as a “land flowing with milk and honey,”… MacDonald wrote that the term for milk (חָלָב, chalav) could easily be the word for “fat” (חֵלֶב, chelev), and the word for honey (דְבָשׁ, devash) could indicate not bees’ honey but a sweet syrup made from fruit [typically dates, as common in the middle east]. The expression evoked a general sense of the bounty of the land….
Isaiah 49:14-51:3 is the second haftarah in the cycle of seven haftarot of consolation after Tisha B’Av, leading up to Rosh Hashanah, which is now six weeks away. This year it begins the evening of Friday, September 18, 2020.
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH
Ëkev – follow
We are now fully in and nearing the end of the second prologue (Ch. 5-11). As referred to in the last two weeks, most scholars say that the chapters following the second prologue are older than either of the second or first prologues. Here, too, this Parsha contains some differences from earlier versions in Torah, including “new details”.
In a recent D’var Torah, the “darshan” (Heb. דַּרְשָׁן or דַּרְשָׁנִית – deliverer of the d’rash), stated that the overarching theme of this portion is “follow the rules or else.” This presents an issue for Reform Jews as noted before. See Hillel’s 07/30/2015 blog at: https://templeorhadash.org/parashat-va-etchanan-deut-3-23-7-11-do-you-feel-commanded/
If what the scholars say is true about the authors of Deuteronomy, a cynic might read this portion, and others like it, as written by those in power imposing their views so to secure their position and authority. For anyone with authority issues, this is a problem.
Yet there are spiritual and ethical aspects of this portion, as others in Deuteronomy, that go beyond the securing of power by the authors. In reacting to the rules and the “if/then” structure of Devarim, it is easy to lose sight of the unique aspects and the progress in human development that they represent. While some of them are similar to laws found in other ancient codes from that region, the twist is in the view of the Divine and both the individual’s and community’s role and relationship to it.
Following is a reading from Shacharit L’chol (Weekday Morning prayers) found on p. 44 of the Reform siddur Mishkan T’filah that incorporates this view of God and Judaism:
“These are the things that are limitless, of which a person enjoys the fruit of this world, while the principal remains in the world to come. They are: honoring one’s father and mother, engaging in deeds of compassion, arriving early for study, morning and evening, dealing graciously with guests, visiting the sick, providing for the wedding couple, accompanying the dead for burial, being devoted in prayer, and making peace among people. But the study of Torah encompasses them all.”
The reading quoted includes elements from a later time period related to a belief in an afterlife and developments of Rabbinic Judaism dating from the about the time of the Maccabees to after the destruction of the Second Temple.
The darshan referred to earlier recalled that Rabbi Bunim of P’shiskha advised us to have two pockets, each with a slip of paper. On one is written: “The world was created for me.” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5) On the other: “I am but dust and ashes.” (cf Genesis 18:27) From time to time we must reach into one pocket or other.
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of brutality, abuse, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, violence, and war; for all those in need of physical, emotional, and mental healing. “R’fuah sh’lëmah” – a complete recovery!
We say KADDISH YATOM for those of our friends and families who have died and been buried this last week; those in the period of Sh’loshim (30 days since burial); those who have died in the last year; and those whose Yahrzeits/Anyos occur at this time; as well as the victims of brutality, disease, natural disasters, war and violence. We remember, too, those victims of the Shoah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year and have us to say “Kaddish” for them. “Zichronam liv’rachah” – May their memories be for blessing.
SHAZOOM: ONLINE SERVICES – 7 PM
Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this evening:
Topic: Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Aug 7, 2020 07:00 PM Arizona
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Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
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Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat!