THE DECALOGUE (“Ten Commandments”) – Deut. 5:6-18
Here is a modern interpretation of the Decalogue from Congregation Ner Shalom in Cotati, CA:
- I am the Lord your God (Give your heart to what matters)
- Don’t worship idols (Don’t devote your time and energy to harmful distractions)
- Don’t take God’s name in vain (Choose your words with care)
- Remember Shabbat (Make time for rest)
- Honor your parents (Honor those whose shoulders you stand on)
- Don’t murder (Don’t push others down)
- Don’t commit adultery (Cherish your relationships)
- Don’t steal (Don’t take, or take credit for, what’s not yours)
- Don’t bear false witness (Don’t lie, no matter the reward)
- Don’t covet (Don’t wish so much for what others have that you lose sight of your own blessings)
From Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/va-etchanan
Va-et’chanan (וָאֶתְחַנַּן – “[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 Tish’a 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, 28 July 2023 and ends at nightfall on Saturday, 29 July 2023. This corresponds to Parashat Va’etchanan.
From ETZ HAYIM TORAH AND COMMENTARY
Copyright © 2001 by The Rabbinical Assembly
THE SEVEN HAFTAROT OF CONSOLATION p. 1032
This passage is the first of the Seven Haftarot of Consolation (shiv’ah d’neḥemata) that announce Israel’s redemption. All of these selections are taken from Isaiah 40-46. They are recited on the seven Sabbaths after Tish-ah b’Av, a fast day that commemorates the destruction of Zion and the exile of Judah.
The Seven Haftarot of Consolation follow the Three Haftarot of Admonition (puranuta) that were recited on the three Sabbaths before Tish-ah b’Av. As the synagogue calendar progresses, these 10 haftarah readings are followed by one chosen especially for the Shabbat that precedes Yom Kippur. Thus we have a cycle of special haftarot for this period, each unrelated to the parashah that is read on Shabbat.
From Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/va-etchanan
By: Rabbi Talia Avnon-Benveniste
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH and REFLECTION
For Torah Study, instead of the portion from the Book of Deuteronomy that is read on this Shabbat, we will read the Haftarah (a selection from the prophets) from Isaiah 40:1-26. You can read this week’s Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Deuteronomy.3.23-7.11, and the Haftarah at https://www.sefaria.org/Isaiah.40.1-26
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
Post-biblical Interpretations – by Alyssa M. Gray, pp. 1083-4
I pleaded with יהוה at that time (3:23). Midrash D’varim Rabbah 2.1 poses four rhetorical questions on the halachah of prayer. For the answers, it looks to the behavior of four biblical figures–Hannah, Daniel, David, and Solomon. The first question is whether a person should pray in a loud voice, as Moses apparently does in this passage. Based on the actions of Hannah, who prayed silently, with only her lips moving (1 Samuel 1:13), the answer is no.
Honor your father and your mother (5:16). The Rabbis (JT Kiddushin 1:7, 61b) illustrated this commandment with two exaggerated tales designed to emphasize the seriousness of the mitzvah. Rabbi Tarfon’s mother was walking in her courtyard on Shabbat when her shoe broke, exposing her foot to the ground. Her son placed his hands under her feet step by step until she returned to her room. When she later complained to other Rabbis that her son had shown her too much honor, they disagreed. Even if he repeated that act thousands of times, he would still not have shown her even half the honor the Torah requires. Conversely, Rabbi Ishmael’s mother complained to the Rabbis that her son did not honor her sufficiently when he refused to allow her to wash his feet and drink the wash water. The Rabbis insisted that if this was the honor she desired, then he must allow her to do it.
At BT Kiddushin 39b, the Rabbis compared the mitzvah of honoring parents with the commandment in Deuteronomy 22:6–7 to send away a mother bird before gathering up her eggs. In each case, the Torah promises long life to those who keep these mitzvot. And the comparison goes deeper: by sending away the mother bird, the egg gatherer shows sensitivity to a mother, albeit a non-human one. Broadly speaking, sending away the mother bird is “honoring a mother,” or honoring motherhood.
Hear, O Israel! יהוה is our God (6:4–9). The Rabbis saw the recitation of the Sh’ma as a Jew’s acceptance of the “yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven”–that is, the acceptance of God’s sovereignty, including acceptance of God’s legitimate authority to require obedience to the Torah (for instance, Mishnah B’rachot 2:2, 5). The martyr Rabbi Akiva died while saying these words (BT B’rachot 61b). The entire passage, known as “recitation of the Sh’ma,” became part of the standard prayer liturgy that men are required to recite twice daily. However, the Rabbis ruled that women are not required to recite the daily Sh’ma (Mishnah B’rachot 3:3) since it is a positive, time-bound commandment from which women are generally exempt in rabbinic law (BT B’rachot 20b). The Talmud raises the possibility that women should also be obligated in the recitation of Sh’ma because of its proclamation of God’s sovereignty, but then dismisses this option. The insistence on women’s exemption from time-bound commandments, even in the service of God, is a powerful talmudic statement of gender hierarchy and female spiritual marginalization. As Rabbi David Abudraham (14th-century Spain) explained, women are exempt from time-bound commandments so that they will not be occupied in divine service when their husbands need them for domestic service.
You shall not intermarry with them … For they will turn your children away from Me (7:3–4). The Torah forbids intermarriage with the seven Canaanite nations on the grounds that the Canaanite spouse could turn the Israelite spouse away from the worship of God. In their biblical contexts, these verses depict an equal-opportunity danger: whether the intermarrying Israelite is the bride or the groom, the fear is that the Canaanite spouse will lead the Israelite partner astray. Partly because the Canaanite concern was nonexistent in their time, and partly because rabbinic legal interpretation of Scripture generally tends to focus closely on words and phrases, the Rabbis read the grammatically masculine Hebrew of 7:4 with extreme literalness: “For he will turn your son away.” In the Talmud this reading is used to justify the determination of Jewish descent according to whether one’s mother is Jewish (BT Kiddushin 68b). The argument is that “he” (the Israelite daughter’s Canaanite spouse) will turn away “your son” (the Israelite father-in-law’s grandson from that union). This proves that the child of a Canaanite father and Israelite mother is considered “your son” (an Israelite), while the child of an Israelite father and Canaanite mother is, by implication, considered “her child” (a Canaanite). Thus, according to rabbinic halachah, in cases of intermarriage the children of an Israelite mother married to a non-Jew are considered part of the Jewish people, but the children of an Israelite father and a non-Israelite mother are not. (For the Reform Movement perspective, see Mikeitz, Another Contemporary Reflection p. 256. [“The Torah / A Women’s Commentary”, excerpts follow:])
[In 1983, the Central Conference of American Rabbis voted to return to patrilineal descent while also retaining matrilineal descent. The resolution required that in the case of intermarriage, a child’s Jewish identity must be confirmed through “acts of identification with the Jewish people” and “the performance of mitzvoth” (if either the mother or father is Jewish). According to the formulation, lineage is not determined by genetics alone but by identification with the Jewish people and by Jewish practice…. (The Reconstructionist movement likewise adopted patrilineal descent as valid. The Conservative movement and Orthodox Jews do not accept patrilineal descent as defining who is a Jew.)
While patrilineal descent has been criticized harshly across the greater Jewish world for dividing the Jewish people, its supporters see its inclusion not as a movement away from tradition but as a transition back to certain biblical roots in light of changed circumstances. Thus Rabbi Bernard Zlotowitz writes that “the changes enacted in the Reform movement fall within the traditional parameters of Judaism as a living faith. In times of necessity and for the welfare of the people, halachah was revised and traditions set aside in favor of more adaptive ones”…. Zlotowitz notes several examples of adaptive changes that have become part of halacha: the removal of the sotah (the wife suspected of adultery as in Numbers 5, … and the abolition of the husband’s right to divorce his wife without cause. These examples are similar in that the changed laws aim to provide for the Jewish community’s preservation and continuity in the face of changing circumstances and values.]
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 11 Av through the 17 of Av, we lovingly remember:
Betty Lou Shull
Mother of Keren Ginsburg
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, July 28, 2023.
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 – Haftarah Va’etchanan Shabbat Nachamu: Isaiah 40:1-26
Time: Jul 28, 2023 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Jul 28, 2023 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 – Gut Shabbos!
PS – About the Book of Isaiah:
From Jewish Encyclopedia
From My Jewish Learning
From Torah.org (includes Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel)
From Wikipedia (refers to Proto-Isaiah, Deutero-Isaiah, Trito-Isaiah)
Timelines from Wikipedia