Torah Weekly - Parshat Va'etchanan

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Parshat Va'etchanan

For the week ending 11 Av 5760 / 11 & 12 August 2000

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    Although Moshe is content that Yehoshua will lead the nation, Moshe nevertheless prays to enter the Land of Israel in order to fulfill its special mitzvot. Hashem refuses. Moshe reminds Bnei Yisrael of the gathering at Sinai when they received the Torah -- that they saw no visual representation of the Divine, but only the sound of words. Moshe impresses on Bnei Yisrael that the Sinai revelation took place before an entire nation, not to a select elite, and that only the Jews will ever claim that Hashem spoke to their entire nation. Moshe specifically enjoins Bnei Yisrael to "pass over" the Sinai event to their children throughout all generations.

    Moshe predicts, accurately, that when Bnei Yisrael dwell in Eretz Yisrael they will sin and be scattered among all the peoples. They will stay few in number but will eventually return to Hashem.

    Moshe designates three "refuge cities" to which an inadvertent killer may flee. Moshe repeats the 10 Commandments and then teaches the Shema, the central credo of Judaism, that there is only One G-d. Moshe warns the people not to succumb to materialism and thus forget their purpose as a spiritual nation. The parsha ends with Moshe exhorting Bnei Yisrael not to intermarry when they enter Eretz Yisrael, as they cannot be a treasured and holy nation if they intermarry, and they will become indistinguishable from the other nations.




    "Ascend to the top of the cliff, and raise your eyes westward, northward...and see with your eyes, for you shall not cross this Jordan" (3:27).

    Moshe wanted dearly to enter Eretz Yisrael. Why, then, did Hashem "tantalize" him by commanding him to climb the cliff and gaze at the Land that he would not enter?

    Moshe is associated with the power of Netzach, Eternity. Everything that Moshe did was forever. He took us out of Egypt, never to return there as slaves; he taught us the Torah which we study and observe until this day. Therefore, Hashem wanted Moshe to gaze upon every blade of grass of Eretz Yisrael, so that throughout our long exile, the Jewish People would never lose that longing for Eretz Yisrael that Moshe felt when he stood on the top of that cliff gazing into the Land.

    Heard from Rabbi Yerucham Uziel Milevsky zt"l


    Yeshaya 40:1 - 26


    The Shabbat immediately following Tisha B'Av is called Shabbat Nachamu -- The Shabbat of Consolation. It takes its name from the first word of this week's haftara: "Comfort, comfort my people," says your G-d. The Prophet reminds the people that the time of Jerusalem's exile has come to an end. The Midrash tells us that Hashem asks Avraham to comfort Jerusalem, but he does not succeed. He is followed by Yitzchak and Yaakov and Moshe who are also unsuccessful. Finally Hashem Himself comes to comfort the Holy City.

    Written and Compiled by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair
    General Editor: Rabbi Moshe Newman
    Production Design: Michael Treblow

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