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Shabbat Shuva - Ha’azinu

Posted on September 18th, 2017

Deuteronomy 32:1-32:52 

 

Avraham Fischer is a rabbi at Darche Noam Institutions.


Remember Your Rock, Your Creator


Moshe poetically reminds the Children of Israel of the importance of remembering God who created them.


The panoramic poetry of Ha’azinu embraces all of the Jewish past, present and future. Israel is warned that sin will be punished through the scourge of the other nations, but that Hashem will never completely abandon His Chosen People. Rather than referring to specific incidents, the poem’s use of the imperfect tense alludes to repeated events, thus making it supra-historic–beyond the limits of history.

The multiple layers of meaning in Ha’azinu invite a variety of interpretations. The following is one such example (Deuteronomy 32:18):

tzur y’lad’cha teshi, vatishkach e-l m’chol’lecha

Although the second part of the verse is the subject of some discussion by the commentaries, a straightforward translation is possible:

. . . and you forgot G-d Who produced you.

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Shabbat Shuva - Ha’azinu

Posted on September 18th, 2017

Deuteronomy 32:1-32:52 


Adam Rosenthal received rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary in May of 2007 and is now serving as rabbi of Peninsula Sinai Congregation in Foster City, California. 


Remember the Days of Old


The Torah describes an earlier time, when lands were distributed fairly by God.


Among the major contributors to suffering around the world is the inequitable distribution of land and resources. The richest 2% of adults in the world own more than half of global household wealth. On a more concrete level, in El Salvador, where I volunteered for 10 days on the AJWS Rabbinical Students’ Delegation, though the land was nominally redistributed in 1992, it was done far from equitably: The poorest people got the lowlands, which are prone to flooding, while the wealthiest held the fertile country, perpetuating the country’s economic inequalities.

In Parashat Ha’Azinu, the Torah poetically describes an earlier time, when lands were apportioned by God to each nation:

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Nitzavim-Vayeilech

Posted on September 11th, 2017

Deuteronomy 29:9 - 31:30 

Avraham Fischer is a rabbi at Darche Noam Institutions.


Moses’ Approach Towards Death


Several commentaries interpret Moses's going to the people before his death.


Moses teaches Israel about the centrality of repentance (Ch. 30), and then he prepares for his final message to his people:

(1) And Moses went (vayeilech) and he spoke these words to all of Israel. (2) And he said to them, “One hundred twenty years old am I today; I am not able (lo ukhal) any longer to go out and to come in, and Hashem has said to me, ‘You will not cross this Jordan.’ (3) Hashem your G-d, He is the One Who passes before you; He will destroy these nations before you and you will possess them; Joshua, he is the one who passes before you, as Hashem has spoken. (4) And Hashem will do to them as He did to Sichon and to Og, the kings of the Emorites, and to their land, which He destroyed. (5) And Hashem gave them before you, and you shall do to them according to all the commandment that I commanded you. (6) Be strong and courageous; do not fear nor panic before them, because Hashem, your G-d, He is the One Who goes with you; He will not fail you nor forsake you.”

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Ki Tavo

Posted on September 4th, 2017

Deuteronomy 26:1 - 29:8 

Rabbi Shimon Felix is the Israel Director of the Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel. He lives with his family in Jerusalem.


Zionism And First Fruits


The speech that farmers recited when bringing their first fruits to the Temple articulates the Zionist message.


Often, people ask me about the biblical and rabbinic roots of Zionism. Questions such as, “Is it a mitzvah (commandment) to live in Israel?” or “Haven’t Jews always lived in the Diaspora, after all, the Babylonian Talmud, the textual cornerstone of Jewish life and law, was written in Babylon, wasn’t it? Why is it important to live in Israel?” Another common one is, “Moses never even got to Israel, the Torah was given in the desert, lots of religious Jews live and have lived outside of Israel, right?”

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Ki Teitzei

Posted on August 28th, 2017

Deuteronomy 21:10 - 25:19 


Rabbi Irving (Yitz) Greenberg was the president of Jewish Life Network/Steinhardt Foundation and founding president of CLAL, the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.


Every Act Is Significant


The reward of long life for the seemingly simple commandment of shooing away a mother bird before taking her young teaches us that no act is trivial.


This Torah portion has the largest concentration of mitzvot (commandments) of any portion; 74 out of the traditional 613 commandments are found in it. Of all these commandments, one stands out. “If [walking] along the road, you chance upon a bird’s nest . . . and the mother is sitting over the fledglings or on the eggs, do not take the mother together with her young. Let the mother go and take only the young, in order that you may fare well and have a long life” (Deuteronomy 22:6).

The Talmud labels this mitzvah the “lightest” (the most insubstantial) of all the commandments, probably because it takes little effort to perform. Sending away the mother might well involve merely making a loud noise. Indeed, just walking close (or advancing menacingly) might induce the mother to fly away.

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