SHABBAT NACHAMU (Sabbath of Comfort)
The name is taken from the first word of Isaiah 40:1-26, the haftarah for the Parsha which is read on the Shabbat immediately after Tisha B’Av, which was this past Sunday.
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/va-etchanan
Va’etchanan (וָאֶתְחַנַּן – Hebrew for “and I [Moses] pleaded [with the Eternal]”)
I pleaded with the Eternal at that time, saying, “O Eternal God, You who let Your servant see the first works of Your greatness and Your mighty hand, You whose powerful deeds no god in heaven or on earth can equal! Let me, I pray, cross over and see the good land on the other side of the Jordan, that good hill country, and the Lebanon.” – Deuteronomy 3:23-25
- Moses pleads with God to let him enter the Land of Israel with the people, but God once more refuses his request. (3:23–28)
- Moses orders the Children of Israel to pay attention and follow the laws given by God in order to be worthy of the land they are about to receive. (4:1–40)
- Specific areas of the land are set aside to serve as cities of refuge. (4:41–43)
- The covenant at Sinai and the Ten Commandments are recalled. Once again, the people are exhorted to heed God’s commandments. (5:1–30)
- Moses speaks the words of the Sh’ma, the credo of Judaism, and commands Israel to show their love for Adonai and keep God’s laws and ordinances. (6:1–25)
- Moses warns the people not to commit idolatry by worshiping the gods of the nations they will conquer in Israel. (7:1–11)
Isaiah 40:1-26 is the first haftarah in the cycle of seven haftarot of consolation after Tisha B’Av, leading up to Rosh Hashanah. It is interpreted as “comforting” the Jewish people for their suffering — נַחֲמוּ נַחֲמוּ, עַמִּי, nachamu nachamu, ami, which in some versions is translated as “Be comforted, be comforted, My nation….” In other versions it is translated as “Comfort, comfort, my people”. The meaning of the Hebrew can also be interpreted to mean God asking to be comforted by the people. Such a reading would render it in English as “you comfort, you comfort, me my people.” The haftarah answers laments read on Tisha B’Av from the Book of Lamentations.
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH
In this week’s Parsha we are finishing the first prologue (Ch. 1-4) in Deuteronomy and starting the second (Ch. 5-11). Most scholars say the second prologue is the older part. There are differences in the order of events, place names and recounting of the events. This is clearly evident in Deuteronomy 4:41-6:3, the triennial reading for this year.
The triennial reading covers three major subjects: The three Cities of Refuge set aside on the east side of the Jordan (Deut. 4:41-49). A modified version of the Ten Commandments (Deut. 5:1-18). And the Israelite leaders ask that Moses convey to them what God says instead of hearing it directly (Deut. 5:19-6:3).
From Wikipedia.org https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Commandments
In Biblical Hebrew, the Ten Commandments, called [עֲשֶׂרֶת הַדְּבָרִים (transliterated aséret had’varim)], are mentioned at Exodus 34:28, Deuteronomy 4:13 and Deuteronomy 10:4. In all sources, the terms are translatable as [“the ten things”,] “the ten words”, “the ten sayings”, or “the ten matters”. [Also known as the Decalogue, they are basic guiding principles related to ethics and worship.]
[The version of the Decalogue found in Deuteronomy is different from that found in Exodus 20:2-17. Rabbis and scholars have spent much effort explaining the differences. For example, in one version we are told to “remember” Shabbat and in the other to “keep” Shabbat. Another example relates to the last principle in which the first version tells us not to covet and the second extends that to desire. As an aside, traditionally the congregation stands whenever the Ten Commandments are read in either Parsha or during Shavuot.]
The Ten Commandments form the basis of Jewish law, stating God’s universal and timeless standard of right and wrong – unlike the rest of the 613 commandments in the Torah, which include, for example, various duties and ceremonies such as the kashrut dietary laws, and the rituals to be performed by priests in the Holy Temple. Jewish tradition considers the Ten Commandments the theological basis for the rest of the commandments.
The traditional Rabbinical Jewish belief is that the observance of these commandments and the other mitzvot are required solely of the Jewish people and that the laws incumbent on humanity in general are outlined in the seven Noahide laws, several of which overlap with the Ten Commandments.
IN MODERN INTERPRETATION
From Wikipedia.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/va-etchanan
The 18th-century German Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn read the admonition of Deuteronomy 4:39, “Therefore, know and take it to heart that the Lord alone is God, in heaven above and on the earth below, and there is none else,” along with that of Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel, the Eternal, our God, is a unique, eternal being!” to demonstrate that whenever it is a question of the eternal truths of reason, Scripture does not say “believe,” but “understand” and “know,” in order that we may know that the Eternal is the true God, and there is no other. Nowhere does Scripture say: “Believe, O Israel, and you will be blessed; do not doubt, O Israel, or this or that punishment will befall you.” Thus Mendelssohn concluded that Scripture does not command faith, but accepts no other commands than those that come by way of conviction. Its propositions are presented to the understanding, submitted for consideration, without being forced upon our belief. Belief and doubt, assent and opposition, in Mendelssohn’s view, are not determined by desire, wishes, longings, fear, or hope, but by knowledge of truth and untruth. Hence, Mendelssohn concluded, ancient Judaism has no articles of faith.
The 20th century Reform Rabbi Gunther Plaut argued that the discussions of cities of refuge in Deuteronomy 4:41–43 and 19:1–13 and Numbers 35:9–34 were composed during a later, settled period, in order to accommodate the disappearance of local altars that previously served as places of refuge.
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur”:
FOR OUR COUNTRY p.516
THUS SAYS ADONAI, This is what I desire: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of lawlessness; to let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, and take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, give clothing, and do not ignore your own kin.
O GUARDIAN of life and liberty, may our nation always merit Your protection. Teach us to give thanks for what we have by sharing it with those who are in need. Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation, and alert to the care of the earth. May we never be lazy in the work of peace; may we honor those who have [served, suffered or] died in defense of our ideals. Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion. Help us all to appreciate one another, and to respect the many ways that we may serve You. May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen.
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of abuse, brutality, conflicts, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence especially against all minority communities including us, and war; for all those at home alone or lonely; 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, conflict, disease, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds, and war.
This coming week, the 15th through the 21st of Av, we lovingly remember:
Mother of Lisa Levine and Joe Levine
Those victims of the Sho’ah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year.
“ZICHRONAM LIV’RACHAH” – MAY THEIR MEMORIES BE FOR BLESSING.
TORAH STUDY AND SHAZOOM
Being a part of, contributing to and connecting with Temple Kol Hamidbar helps us fulfill our three-fold purpose as a Beit Tefillah (House of Prayer), a Beit Midrash (House of Study) and a Beit Knesset (House of Community).
We will meet as usual at the regular times for Torah Study and Shazoom this evening, Friday, July 23, 2021.
Zoom continues updating its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this evening:
Topic: Torah Study – Triennial Reading Deut. 4:41-6:3
Time: July 23, 2021 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: July 23, 2021 07:30 PM Arizona
To join the Torah Study and/or Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/72510500854?pwd=Z3VQZWF4U1BBZytNYmh3aHFTWkFDZz09
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
Hint: The last character of the password is the number zero.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat!