TORAH READING FOR 20 TISHRI 5783 Oct 14-15, 2022
MOADIM L’SIMCHA – Joyous Festivals!
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/chol-hamo-eid-sukkot
Chol HaMo-eid Sukkot – חוֹל הַמּוֹעֵד סֻכֹּת – Intermediate Days of Sukkot
Holidays Exodus 33:12-34:26 from Pasha Ki Tisa (כִּי תִשָּׂא — Hebrew for “when you take”)
Moses said to the Eternal, “See, You say to me, ‘Lead this people forward,’ but You have not made known to me whom You will send with me. Further, You have said, ‘I have singled you out by name, and you have, indeed, gained My favor.'”- Exodus 33:12
On the Shabbat during Sukkot, we are reminded of the age-old desire to know God. Moses implores God to let him see God. While God will not allow Moses to see God’s face, God tells Moses, “I will make My goodness pass before you…” Perhaps we experience the divine presence through the goodness we create in the world. The Torah then sets forth the thirteen attributes of God, among them that God is compassionate, gracious, slow to anger and abounding in kindness. By emulating these very attributes, we create the goodness which allows us to know God.
HAFTARAH – Shabbat during Sukkot
Ezekiel 38:18-39:7, [historic: 38:18-39:16], The Book of Ecclesiastes is read
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/chol-hamo-eid-sukkot
By: Rabbi Jacqueline Mates-Muchin [Senior Rabbi, Temple Sinai, Oakland CA]
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH and REFLECTION
For Torah Study this week, instead of the portion from Exodus that is read on Sukkot Shabbat Chol Mo’ëd, we will focus on the last portion of the Book of Deuteronomy, V’zot HaB’rachah (“this is the blessing”), Deut. 33:1-34:12. This portion is read on Simchat Torah along with the first portion of Genesis, B’rëshít (“in the beginning”). You can read this week’s Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Exodus.33.12-34.26, and you can read the portion we will be studying at https://www.sefaria.org/Deuteronomy.33.1-34.12
From “The Torah / A Women’s Commentary” edited by Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph.D.
וזאת הברכה V’zot Hab’rachah – Deuteronomy 33:1–34:12 [for this week’s Torah Study]
Moses’ Last Words: A Blessing for Israel by Andrea L. Weiss, pp. 1271-1272
PARASHAT V’ZOT HAB’RACHAH (“this is the blessing”) presents Moses’ poetic blessing of the Israelites (33:1–29), which is followed by a brief record of Moses’ death and a tribute to his unparalleled prophetic stature (34:1–12). As we come to the end of Moses’ life, it seems fitting to reflect back on the epic story of Israel’s unrivaled leader.
Moses’ story begins in the book of Exodus (2:1–22), where we read that a Levite woman and a Levite man (later identified as Jochebed and Amram) give birth to a child whose life is imperiled by the Pharaoh’s decree to kill all Israelite baby boys. Although Moses’ mother initially defies the king and hides her son, after three months she is forced to abandon him, so she places him in a basket floating down the Nile. His sister, Miriam, then watches as Pharaoh’s own daughter rescues and adopts the Hebrew child. At Miriam’s suggestion, the princess hands Moses over to his mother, Jochebed, who nurses him for several years. Thus, it takes the courage, ingenuity, and collaboration of these three women to ensure the survival of Israel’s future liberator and leader.
Although raised as Egyptian royalty, Moses eventually identifies with the plight of his enslaved kin. But when defending a beaten Israelite leads to manslaughter, Moses flees to Midian. There, he marries Zipporah, the daughter of the Midianite priest Yitro, and fathers two sons. Then, while shepherding his father-in-law’s flocks on Mount Horeb (also known as Mount Sinai), he glimpses the Divine amidst a bush that burns yet remains unconsumed. Reluctantly, he accepts God’s call to return to Egypt and rescue his people (Exodus 3–4). With the aid of his brother Aaron, Moses orchestrates God’s signs and wonders and eventually persuades Pharaoh to let Israel go (Exodus 5–15).
The exodus from Egypt leads to a second encounter with God atop the same mountain, where God communicates the precepts by which Israel is to live (Exodus 19–20). The rest of the Torah describes how Moses oversees the construction of the Tabernacle and the ordination of the priesthood and then leads the people on a forty-year trek through the wilderness. Once they reach the plains of Moab, Moses reaffirms the covenant and instructs the people how to live in order to thrive in the Promised Land. For Israel, the wilderness journey will culminate in the entry into the land of Canaan, as recounted in the book of Joshua. For Moses, as we read in this parashah, the journey will end atop another mountain, Mount Nebo, as he surveys the land and dies at God’s command.
Parashat V’zot Hab’rachah is unique in that it is not designated as a weekly Torah portion. Instead, it is read on Simchat Torah, the holiday that marks the conclusion of the annual Torah reading cycle and the commencement of a new lectionary cycle of weekly Torah readings.
The focus of this parashah is on Moses and the tribes named for Jacob’s sons; women are explicitly mentioned only once, in the reference to a mother in 33:9. However, 33:4 states, “Moses charged us with the Teaching [torah] as the heritage of the congregation of Jacob.” Who is “us”? Prior passages in Deuteronomy specify that women were included in the covenant (29:10) and were taught the torah (31:12).
Finally, 34:8 mentions that “the Israelites bewailed Moses” for thirty days. Evidence shows that women were trained as singers of laments and likely would have played a main role in mourning Israel’s most cherished leader.
Another View – by Tamara Cohn Eskenazi, p. 1284
DEUTERONOMY 34:10 CLAIMS THAT no other prophet ever matched Moses, whom God had “singled out, face to face.” Albeit unique, Moses is only one of the many prophets who, as God’s spokespersons, guided Israel. In the Bible, Miriam is the very first person to receive the title “prophet” (Exodus 15:20; Genesis 20:7 refers to Abraham’s prophetic gifts, but he is not called “Abraham the prophet”). Along with several passages that mention unnamed female prophets (Isaiah 8:3; Ezekiel 13:17; Joel 3:1), the Bible names three other women prophets: Deborah, Huldah, and Noadiah.
Nothing is known about Noadiah (5th century B.C.E.) apart from Nehemiah’s claim that she opposed him (Nehemiah 6:14); she must have been important enough to disturb Nehemiah, but it is her predecessors Deborah and Huldah who are praised as prominent and influential. Deborah leads the Israelites to victory and is the only chieftain in that period of Israelite history who is also a prophet (Judges 4:4). The poem attributed to Deborah refers to her as a “mother in Israel” (Judges 5:7), a title that probably designates her position as the people’s protector rather than a biological maternity.
Huldah is perhaps Israel’s most successful prophet. Whereas the messages of other prophets in the Bible often fall on deaf ears during their lifetime, Huldah’s authority goes unquestioned and her words are heeded instantly. According to II Kings 22 and II Chronicles 34, a royal delegation in 622 B.C.E. consults Huldah about the “book of the torah” that was found at the Temple. When she authenticates it as God’s teachings, the king immediately–and unquestioningly–implements the book’s laws. Huldah is identified as a married woman, whose husband is the keeper of the king’s wardrobe, while she herself holds “office” in a public area known as the Mishneh. Although the later rabbis express unease about the prominence of Huldah, the Bible presents her authority as a matter of fact. According to many modern scholars, the “book of the torah” that Huldah authenticates is Deuteronomy, or at least portions of it. If so, we owe the binding authority that Deuteronomy holds to none other than Huldah, whose own words confirmed and thus made possible the preservation and transmission of these teachings to us.
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 20th of Tishri through the 26th of Tishri, we lovingly remember:
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, October 14, 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 – V’zot HaB’rachah Deut. 33:1-34:12
Time: Oct 14, 2022 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Oct 14, 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.
SH’MINI ATZERET-SIMCHAT TORAH – Rejoicing of the Torah – October 16-17, 2022
We are now approaching the end of the annual High Holy Days period which began with the preparations during the month of Elul and extends through Sukkot, the third and last of the “regalim” (pilgrimage festivals). Many think of the High Holy Days as being only Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and by extension the ten days of repentance/awe in between. However, we begin greeting each other with Shana Tovah at the S’lichot Service several days before Rosh Hashanah. In addition, tradition teaches that we may still repent and receive forgiveness for our mistakes, failings and errors through Hoshana Rabah (the great supplication), which takes place on the seventh day of Sukkot.
We then cap it all off with the holidays of Shemini Atzéret (eighth day of assembly) and Simchat Torah (rejoicing with/of the Torah) – in Israel and the Reform Movement, the two holidays are combined into one. The former is mandated in Torah and the latter, a Rabbinical holiday, probably originated during the middle ages.
Among other things, the Simchat Torah celebration involves singing to and “dancing” with all the Torah Scrolls seven times around the sanctuary and sometimes spilling out onto the street – the circuits are called hakafot. We also read the last portion of Devarim (Deuteronomy) and the first of Berëshit (Genesis), ending one and beginning another annual cycle of readings from the Torah with great fanfare and joy.
Whether we believe the Torah is God’s word written by Moses, or ancient literature that reflects the times and circumstances of its compilers and editors, it is the profound and rich story of the Jewish people. It contains valuable lessons to be learned from its triumphs and defeats, its lofty ideals and miserable failings, its strengths and foibles. It ultimately represents Jewish values and ethics, and how to be in the world and repair it.
The Jewish people and Torah are one – we live! So, as we celebrate, with the same fervor that we made our resolutions, may we fully implement what we resolved to improve in ourselves and repair the world. Seek peace and pursue it (Ps. 34:14).
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat/Gut Shabbos v’Chag Sameach!
PS – Some Sukkot Greetings besides Chag Sameach (Happy Holiday):
Yom Tov or Gut Yontiv (“a good [holy] day”)
Chag Sukkot Sameach (“happy Sukkot holiday”)
Chag Z’man Simchateinu Sameach (“happy ‘time of our rejoicing’ holiday”)
Chag HaAsif Sameach (“happy ‘Ingathering’ holiday”)
Moadim l’Simcha (“joyous festivals”) and response Chagim u’zmanim l’sason (“joyous holidays and seasons!” [these are used during the intermediate days]