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Shabbat Ha’Azinu (Deut. 32:1 – 32:52)

In the portion this week, Moses teaches the song (or poem, depending on how you interpret it) to the Israelites, the one that describes what is going to happen to them (entering the land, turning away from God, getting clobbered with curses, returning to God generations later). This song is intended to be a lifeline to that future generation, the instruction that will tell them – when they are ready... read more

Shabbat Nitzavim-Vayeilech (Deut. 29:9 – 31:30)

Bases are loaded, it’s the bottom of the ninth, and Moses is winding up for the final pitch. We get to hear again about the penalty for ignoring God and those darn blessings and curses. We read that we were all there at Sinai (remember the buffet? Weren’t you wearing that great Armani suit? Oops, wrong party.). And we read that all of this – the entire law – is not so alien to us:... read more

Shabbat Ki Tavo (Deuteronomy 26:1 – 29:8)

In subtle support of the month of Elul in which we read this portion, Torah offers thoughts which allow for self-reflection, corrective action, and a return to our roots. Moses gives instructions how the Israelites should mark our entrance to the Land, how offerings and tithes are meant to support not just the religious framework of society (the Levites) but also the disadvantaged. The tribes go up... read more

Shabbat Ki Teitzei (Deuteronomy 21:10 – 25:19)

This week Moses continues his detailing of the laws, and one caught my eye this year: (21:15-17) If a man has two wives, one loved and the other unloved, and both the loved and the unloved have borne him sons, but the first-born is the son of the unloved one — when he wills his property to his sons, he may not treat as first-born the son of the loved one in disregard of the son of the unloved one who is... read more

Shabbat Shoftim (Deuteronomy 16:18 – 21:9)

Parsha Shoftim deals a lot with the idea of equity, fairness, equality, and keeping Israelite society on an equal footing. It talks about how a king (should the Israelites choose one in the future) should behave and be guided; how to set up a court of law; how to deal with unsolved murders (this was before the days of “CSI: Jerusalem”); and more. Most notable in this portion is the phrase... read more

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