The portion begins this week with Moses describing the blessings that the Israelites will enjoy if they follow God’s commandments and then links that to the requirement to drive out the inhabitants of the land and destroy their worship sites. It’s so important to avoid contact with idol worship, that Moses tells them to destroy the gold and silver, rather than use it, to avoid even the taint of idolotry. Moses recalls the experiences of the last 40 years and how God helped and taught the Israelites like a parent would help and teach a child, including the fact that manna fell from the sky each day to feed them, and that their clothes and shoes never wore out, and their feet didn’t swell.
Moses warns the Israelites not to forget those blessings when they are settled in the land, and not to fall into the trap of believing that all that is good around them came solely from their own luck and hard work. He finishes this thought with yet another reminder not to worship idols.
Moses talks about the enemies they will have to defeat, and how God is with them – not because they are virtuous (they aren’t, he reminds them) but because God is honoring the promise he made to their ancestors. This leads to a description of the times the Israelites were defiant including the Golden calf and various times the Israelites complained. Moses concludes this section by pointing out that the Israelites began with just 70 people and left as a multitude, and that they saw the miraculous things God did to free them from Egypt.
Moses points out that the Land they are going to enter is not like Egypt, where they had to work to make things grow and thrive. Moses states that this Land is nurtured by God and is fruitful on its own. Because of that they must take care not to worship idols, or all those blessings will cease.
Not sure what this Torah portion is about? You can find a brief summary in The Edible Torah’s “Condensed Guide to the Weekly Torah Readings”. For more information on what The Edible Torah is all about, along with insight on how to set up a pot-luck Shabbat experience, check out “The Edible Torah”.