From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/va-etchanan
Va’etchanan (וָאֶתְחַנַּן – Hebrew for “[Moses] pleaded with the Eternal”) – Deuteronomy 3:23−7:11
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 Shabbat Nachamu
Shabbat Nachamu (“Sabbath of comfort/ing”) takes its name from the haftarah from Isaiah in the Book of Isaiah 40:1-26 that speaks of “comforting” the Jewish people for their suffering. The haftarah answers laments read on Tisha B’Av from the Book of Lamentations. It is the first of seven haftarot of consolation leading up to the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Shabbat Nachamu this year begins at sundown on Friday, 12 August 2022 and ends at nightfall on Saturday, 13 August 2022. This corresponds to Parashat Va’etchanan.
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/va-etchanan
By: Rabbi Jacqueline Mates-Muchin [Senior Rabbi, Temple Sinai, Oakland CA]
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH and REFLECTION
You can read this week’s Torah Portions at https://www.sefaria.org/Deuteronomy.3.23-7.11
From “The Torah / A Women’s Commentary” edited by Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph.D.
ואתחנן Va-et’chanan – Deuteronomy 3:23–7:11
The Call to Loyalty and Love by Ora Horn Prouser, p. 1063
PARASHAT VA-ET’CHANAN (“I pleaded”) begins with Moses’ recollection of how he longingly prayed to God to be allowed to enter the Promised Land. This speech is part of a larger address to the Israelites in which Moses recounts for them all that occurred in the wilderness and the lessons they should derive from these experiences. Moses exhorts them to use the past as the basis for future behavior, making their first-hand knowledge of God and their national memory of the Sinai experience (here called Horeb) the basis for their relationship to God when they begin their lives in the new land without him.
Throughout this parashah, Moses plays the role of teacher. First, he spells out various reasons as to why the Israelites should obey God’s teachings (4:1–40). Next, he reminds them of what God commanded at Horeb (Sinai) (4:44–5:30), including the Decalogue (“Ten Commandments”) (5:6–18). Then, he teaches them how to fulfill the commandments by specifying the proper attitude to approach the Divine (6:1–7:5). Finally, he concludes by explaining the nature of God’s love for them, the basis for the relationship between Israel and God (7:6–11). Throughout, Moses reiterates that while the people will be rewarded for their obedience and commitment to God, they will be punished severely if they stray from God’s path. In particular, he emphasizes monotheism, a central theme in Deuteronomy as a whole. God’s uniqueness and the demand for Israel’s absolute loyalty find expression in the passages known as the Sh’ma and V’ahavta (6:4–9)–prayers that stand at the center of the Jewish proclamation of faith.
This parashah seems to include women as a matter of course when Moses addresses the Israelites in the second-person masculine singular or plural, as is typical elsewhere. In addition, women are mentioned specifically in the Decalogue as daughters, slaves, mothers, and wives (5:14, 16, 18), as well as in the prohibition of intermarriage, in which Canaanite women appear to possess the power to lead Israelites astray (7:3–4). More indirectly, the parashah’s emphasis on education (6:20–25) invites readers to assess women’s role in ancient Israel with respect to raising the next generation.
Another View – by Amy Kalmanofsky, p. 1082
PARASHAT VA-ET’CHANAN FIGURES PROMINENTLY in debates about the development of monotheism, the belief in God’s oneness. While certain passages reflect Deuteronomy’s mandate that a single God must be worshipped at one shrine by one people (see 4:35; 6:4), others suggest a belief in the existence in multiple deities (see 4:19–20). Despite the Bible’s claim that Moses introduced monotheism to the world, many scholars recognize that Israel’s commitment to monotheism developed over time. Texts such as 4:19–20 or Exodus 15:11 (“Who is like you, יהוה, among the celestials [literally: gods]?”) likely represent an earlier stage in Israel’s theological development. Furthermore, prophetic diatribes against idolatry (see, for instance, Jeremiah 2 or Hosea 2) suggest that monotheism may have been the ideal, but it may not have been the practice of the average Israelite until the 6th century B.C.E.
Tikva Frymer-Kensky shed enormous light on the process through which monotheism took root within Israelite culture and thus revolutionized biblical religion. In her influential 1992 book In the Wake of the Goddesses, she described the transition to monotheism as a process in which the image of Israel’s God expanded to include all the functions previously attributed to various gods and goddesses–the multiple divine personalities thought to determine the natural world. Israel’s God became the rainmaker, healer, warrior, and, as the many tales of barren women attest, controller of human reproduction.
However, this perception of one God as master of the universe creates a theological challenge. The polytheistic universe, observed Frymer-Kensky, is defined by change and flux in which humanity is at the mercy of the gods. Divine whims destroy cities; divine squabbles cause deluge or drought. Now, with one God in control, what accounts for destruction and tragedy? Frymer-Kensky asserted that biblical monotheism makes human beings the initiators of change within the universe. Human behavior becomes the variable that determines the course of history and the natural world. When Israel behaves, there is rain and abundance; when Israel sins, there is drought and death (Deuteronomy 11:13–17). Frymer-Kensky noted that biblical monotheism thus comes with a mandate: as God’s partners, it becomes humanity’s responsibility to maintain God’s universe through right behavior and social justice.
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 of all kinds especially directed at individuals and specific 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 16th through the 22nd 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
We will meet as usual at the regular times for Torah Study and Shazoom this evening, Friday, August 12, 2022.
Zoom regularly updates its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this evening with wine/grape juice for Kiddush and Challah for Motzi.
Topic: Torah Study – Va’etchanan (triennial part) Deut. 5:1-7:11
Time: Aug 12, 2022 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Aug 12, 2022 07:30 PM Arizona
To join 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!